Amidst the avalanche of discs marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth this year, none is likely to take so ingenious an approach than this glancing aside exploring the music of four of his pianist-composer peers. Focusing on figures who once vied for the attention of the same patrons and audiences as Beethoven did is a clever conceit. And quietly revealing in many ways, not least in placing the off-stage Beethoven within a more immediately appreciable context.

Echoes of a musical time and style Beethoven would soon render obsolete are heard in Joseph Wölfl’s attractively bright and buoyant, Mozart-like Third Op.33 Sonata, while the fiery virtuosity that scorches the outer movements of the Cherubini-dedicated First Op.50 Sonata by Muzio Clementi (his sonatas much admired by Beethoven) smacks of his locking horns with the titan’s more articulate combustibility. Contrarily, Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s robustly structured , thrillingly executed Third Piano Sonata suggests genuine homage rather than jealous competitiveness with the Master.

Moving from sombre, dark-hued fantasy to gracefully pirouetting lyricism, Jan Ladislav Dussek’s two-movement Op.61 Sonata tellingly begins with a reference to...

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