Piano Concerto in F Op. posth ; Theme and Variations in F Op 97;
Piano Concerto in A S4/W24.
London Mozart Players, Howard
CHANDOS CHAN 9886
This is an interesting disc although the music is not outstanding. It is
pleasant, well-written; a sort of amalgam between Mozart and early Beethoven
but, much as I admire Howard Shelley's playing, I do not think he has quite
the measure of Hummel's work as revealed on this disc.
For my taste, and not everyone will agree with me, Hummel's music needs more
elegance and refinement. I think that these performances are too strong and
persuasive for its classical style and therefore the spirit of the music
is somewhat lost. The music did not always flow mercurially and at times
I felt it was forced. It is hard to explain but I found the performances
As a Beethovenian I am interested in works written by his contemporaries
and have recently enjoyed the new recording of the Ries symphonies. I asked
to review this Hummel disc but I fear that I have been disappointed.
There is no doubt as to Shelley's ability and sincerity. The sound is good
but a little too close and intrusive. Perhaps that is what the real problem
is. Chandos has an enviable record of excellent sound quality however, and
I have often remarked on this in other reviews.
The F major concerto was Hummel's last concerto and its London premiere of
1833 was disappointing. It seems a hybrid work not knowing whether to be
a graceful work or a martial heroic work. These two characteristics do not
make happy bedfellows. The Theme and Variations are more elegant and Mozartian
but there is nothing particularly original in this work, pleasant though
it is. The A major concerto, which probably dates from the 1790s, is the
best work because the mood is consistent. The Adagio is particularly good
and the scintillating fingerwork is delightful.
I wish I could be more positive.