Clementi Toccata Op.11 : His Showpiece on Clavichord!
Wim Winters, Clavichord
Muzio Clementi Toccata Op.11 : His Showpiece on Clavichord!
Early 1780ies, Muzio Clementi wrote a bunch of sonatas and other pieces that would challenge really hard Europe’s musical standards of the time. Not only did he introduce on large scale musical effects that we today would call ‘Romantic’, but also the keyboard technique he developed was unseen at the time. When Clementi played with Mozart on that famous Christmas Eve 1781 before the emperor (https://youtu.be/yB34Ni0q0PI), Mozart would see an Italian man, few years his elder, mainly raised in Britain, who demonstrated an ease of playing with incorporation of long chains of thirds and sixths, that Wolfgang for sure must have seen as new challenging standards. Wolfgang would devote only a short time on his, well… kind of frustration in a letter to his father, but, as real talents do, take it as an opportunity to become “better” and move on. One can smell the influence of Clementi’s way of playing in Mozart’s work after their meeting.
Nothing is really for sure concerning the program of that night, but a piece similar to this Toccata in B flat Major, opus 11 is possible to have been played. This piece often is described as being played that evening, while -to my understanding- it was published somewhat later. Both elements do not have to exclude each other though. Regarding the date, 1781 or 1784, it is … remarkable.
Clementi played a lot of harpsichord in England, where he had to accompany an orchestra in music of Händel, Bach, … During his long concert tour in Europe, in the middle of which this piece is to be situated, he must have played a lot of different instruments. The pianoforte was still very young -although from Mozart’s letters it probably was on a pianoforte they played in 1781- the harpsichord was still very present, as was the clavichord. it does work very well on an instrument like mine, so there you have it: Clementi’s opus 11 on a Saxon clavichord !
Hope you enjoy!