Clementi and musical expression

Clementi’s instrumental music developed mainly between 1770 and 1820, a time in which the concept of ‘expression’ in music was determined by English writers on aesthetics (Charles Avison, Alexander Gerard, James Beattie, Henry Home, Adam Smith). Expression was not so much an ‘outlet’ for the personal feeling of the composer (as it was to be in Romanticism) as it was an objective presentation filtered through the sensibility of the composer. The instrumental music of Clementi is filled with such expressive elements, which are individuated by means of the various performance directions he uses (espressivo, cantabile, grazioso, spiritoso).