The 88 sonatas of Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) have been recorded complete before but never on a fortepiano which reveals their true Italianate colour as well as their unfailing charm. The Bachian figurations of the quick movements trip so much more easily from the lighter touch of the fortepiano than its heavier descendant, and a fine pianist can make much more from the Scarlattian contrasts of breathless toccata and lyric style which are Cimarosa’s principal modes of expression here.
As with Scarlatti’s individual sonatas, these short character pieces gather naturally by key, tempo and affekt into groups; not Scarlattian pairs but trios, thus forming mini-sonatas in the Classical form if not style. About 30 of them have strong late-Baroque inspiration, full of rhythmic and harmonic inventiveness, but the biggest group is formed by at least 40 sonatas that call to mind an opera sinfonia in a typical Italian theatre, with melodramatic moments, cavatinas and cabalettas, love duets alongside comic scenes, all deriving from the effervescent Neapolitan tradition. There are also homages from within the sacred music of that tradition with elaborate counterpoint and formal fantasy, and still other sonatas that proceed in a more reflective, late-Classical style, conceived in a tripartite A-B-A form.
David Boldrini has recorded the sonatas on two instruments: a copy of an Anton Walter model, and an original Schantz fortepiano, both carefully maintained at the Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence, which collects and curates fortepianos and the music written for them. Boldrini himself studied in Florence and now works there as a pianist, conductor and repetiteur.
Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) was one of the best known composers of the Neapolitan School. He held several important musical posts throughout Europe (St. Petersburg, the Emperor Leopold in Vienna) as a highly successful composer of operas. His best known work is the opera Il Matrimonio Segreto, which brought him universal fame.
Cimarosa’s output for the keyboard consists if a great number of sonatas, short, one-movement works, charmingly melodious, witty and entertaining.
Pianist David Boldrini plays an early fortepiano, achieving a wide range of expression, from sweet murmuring to fierce brilliance.