All Music.com by Patsy Morita
Opera composer Domenico Cimarosa wrote nearly 90 keyboard sonatas that, until the late twentieth century, were ignored by musicologists as well as performers. It is easy to understand why, when they are compared to contemporary works by Mozart and Haydn. Cimarosa stuck to the one-movement sonata form that was used by Domenico Scarlatti. There is some evidence that Cimarosa considered using the three-movement structure, but no such sonata by him has been found, nor has there been found any indication that some of the single movements should be combined in such a way. The design of the sonatas is simple: two lines, with the melodic material in the right hand, usually in binary form, and sustaining one mood throughout. The texture is not usually very full, either, and most do not last much more than two minutes, if that. The attractiveness of the sonatas lies almost completely in the inventive melodies and the different character of each one, which Evgeny Soifertis brings out wonderfully in this collection. The 32 sonatas here are captured with excellent sound. He makes the most of these little works, varying their order to exhibit each one's character effectively. They range from the quiet, graceful, aria-like No. 55, to the jovial and energetic No. 15. Soifertis even manages to find hints of orchestral richness in No. 78 and No. 44, where the left hand is slightly more than just a harmonization of the melody. No. 30 and No. 27 are Baroque-sounding, as are several of the other sonatas, with rapidly repeating notes in the accompaniment, reminiscent of Vivaldi, and ornamentation reminiscent of Scarlatti. One of the best of the selections is also the longest one, No. 71. It is vivacious and even technically flashy in its happy bustling. Opposite in character is the melancholy No. 22, very lyrically and beautifully played by Soifertis. His sympathy for these sonatas and sensitivity in playing them shows them at their best.
PIANO NOV/DEC 2005
These often characterful and masterly little gems remain almost entirely unknown even to most pianophiles. A kind of cross between Scarlatti, early Haynd and Clementi, they range across a wide spectrum of emotion and stylistic shades, and Soifertis has ordered them (and plays them) in such a way that his whole recital can be listened to at a single sitting without the slightest danger of boredom or ennui. He is a born aristocrat of the piano, and a master of the sweetest pianissimo one could imagine. One reaches the end of this beautifully recorded recital (at least this one does) asking, Twist-like, ‘Please, sir, may we have some more?’
Bryce Morrison - Gramophone
A pianist carried away by words but he sparkles when he plays
Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) was a prolific composer whose output included 60 operas and 88 keyboard sonatas. And his racy life and dazzling spirit are reflected in this fine recital where he so often tosses convention aside to explore a wide range of picturesque styles and effects.
Evgeny Soifertis, a young Russian who, in common with many other pianists, makes his home in London, clearly relishes every facet of Cimarosa's diamond-like chippings, many of which glint and sparkle with myriad surprises. Indeed, his enthusiasm leads him, in his accompanying notes, to abandon academic rigour or analysis for subjectivity, attaching teasing but vivid images to each sonata.
Like Cortot, who gave titles to the Chopin Preludes (for him No. 16 was 'the road to the abyss'), he may show that music is too precise rather than too vague for language but his exuberance is infectious – if for the life of me I cannot make out how No. 55 possesses an 'operatic gusto' when it is a pensive siciliana or how No. 27 relates to Chopin's 23rd prelude. Soifertis is elsewhere delightfully to the point (No. 68 is 'bad weather, flashes of lightning').
More importantly, his performances are masterly and affectionate, equally attuned to boisterousness or introspection. Meridian's sound is impressive and readers inclined to be suspicious should try Sonatas Nos. 9, 13, 23 and, especially, 24, where a sad tale is told with an incongruous but enlivening piquancy.
Colin Anderson International Record Review
If it is the case, as Evgeny Soifertis suggests in his booklet notes, that Naples-born Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) is virtually forgotten today (although other recordings of his music are listed), then it is also worth noting his comment appertaining to opinions of the composer while alive: that he was compared with and even found preferable to Mozart. Cimarosa, highly regarded then as a composer of opera, is best remembered no for Il martimonio segreto, although Oxford-based Bampton Classical Opera revived I due baroni in September 2003 under David Owen Norris.
This disc's annotation is annoyingly bereft of a recording location and full date, and the stated playing time 68'26'' should read 62'20''. The release itself collects 32 of the 88 one-movement sonatas written by Cimarosa for the fortepiano, which have 'survived in non-autograph manuscript copies ... which cannot be conclusively dated'.
The examples chosen here range in length from 40 seconds to just under five minutes and invariably invoke Domenico Scarlatti's earlier composed and similarly constructed (harpsichord) sonatas. If Cimarosa does not match his fellow-Italian's wild imagination or extension of techniques, there is much to enjoy in his elegant invention. The sonatas with moderate or slow tempos tend to be the most engaging, whereas faster ones can be decorously brilliant rather than emulating Scarlatti's flamboyant creativity. One in G minor (C61) is notably soul-searching, Soifertis describing it as 'a beautiful aria for the fortepiano, with rich fioritura'.
Indeed, it is Soifertis's identification with Cimarosa's music that makes the difference. He brings a gentle touch and crisp fingers to create ingenuous eloquence and unostentatious display. For all the echoes of Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart, Soifertis's focus on Cimarosa's melodic grace and unforced urbanity reveals numerous agreeable surprises as to both form and content, and no lack of feeling. This undemanding if thoroughly likeable music proves a perfect antidote to daily stress and has clearly taken the fancy of Soifertis; his well-researched essay includes a picturesque response to each sonata played. As is his stated preference, Soifertis prefers to illustrate than be dryly analytical; thus it is his cultivated musicianship that sets the seal on this diverting release. Soifertis's sensitivity, poise and clarity are both disarming and enlightening and he has been recorded with equal thoughtfulness as regards balancing presence and space.