Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Piano Concerto in F Op. posth ; Theme and Variations in F Op 97;
Piano Concerto in A S4/W24
London Mozart Players, Howard Shelley (piano)
CHANDOS CHAN 9886  (DDD) [67.42]
  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

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 somewhat uncomfortable.

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.

David Wright

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: