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Cat. No. CHAN 9798 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9798 - Pinto: Piano Music
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Available From: 17 February 2000
Born in London in 1785, Pinto was one of the boldest and most innovative composers of his time. His harmonies and idiomatic writing for the piano often seem to anticipate the Romantic school, yet his music has only gradually become known in the last forty years. On his death at the age of only twenty, his teacher Johann Peter Salomon remarked ‘if he had lived and been able to resist the allurements of society, England would have had the honour of producing a second Mozart’.

Pinto’s extant compositions include several fine works for violin, a score of songs, and fifteen works for solo piano. The complete piano pieces were published in 1985 in ‘The London Pianoforte School, Vol 14’, edited by Nicholas Temperely. The most important of them are included on this disc.

The two ‘Grand Sonatas’, Op. 3, were published in 1801, when Pinto was sixteen. Showing some influence of recently published sonatas by an established London musician, John Baptist Cramer, (1771-1858), they far surpass their models in originality and emotional range. Less that a year later, Pinto published his Grand Sonata in C minor, this time dedicated to his friend and fellow-pupil John Field (1782-1837), whom he had just seen for the last time before Field’s departure to Russia. The opening sounds strong and formal, but almost at once there is a prophecy of Schubert in the sudden plunge to D flat major, reinforced by other colourful modulations.

Pinto’s last sonata, left unfinished at his death, was the Fantasia and Sonata in C minor. It was completed by Joseph Woelfl (1772-1812), assembled and edited by Samuel Wesley (1766-1837, who declared himself happy to ‘perpetuate the posthumous Fame of so great a Genius’, and published by Pinto’s mother in 1807/8. It is remarkable in having all five movements in minor keys, its darkness only relieved by Woelfl’s conclusion in C major.

The three shorter pieces all, in different ways, show Pinto’s distinctive qualities. (None of them can be dated with confidence.) The Rondo in E flat and the Minuetto in A flat are among Pinto’s more ‘classical’ works, but the Rondo on an Irish Air, ‘Cory Owen’, was most likely published in 1801. The episodes between statements of the tune stray a long way from it in mood and style, and show early examples of Pinto’s fiery passage-work and his harmonic surprises.

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