is tuneful and pleasurable listening. He is a composer who
seems to be doing rather well on disc at the moment – within
the past year or two Chandos has been recording his choral
music, Naxos has issued several discs and Hyperion has reissued
the String Quartets and Septets on their budget Helios label.
Back in April I reviewed another recording of the most substantial
work on this disc – the Grande Sonata, also on the Naxos
label with Franz Bartolomey as the cellist (see review).
In February 2005 Don Satz reviewed with great enthusiasm
a complete set of the Piano Trios played by the Trio Parnassus
One point of
particular interest about this disc lies in the use of fortepianos.
For the trios a reproduction of an instrument by Michael
Rosenberger dated 1795 was used. For the other works Susan
Alexander-Max played a reproduction of an instrument by
Nanette Streicher dated 1814. The sound is quite different
and considerably more substantial from the later instrument.
Information about the other instruments is not provided
but they sound “modern”.
The disc opens
with the posthumously published two-movement Piano Quartet.
A fairly short Andante leads to a much more substantial
Allegro con spirito. The latter is taken at quite
a broad tempo – perhaps too much so for the marking.
The two Piano
Trios are the second and third in a series of seven. Both
are in a conventional three movement format with the G major
work having a central minuet, the F major an Andante.
The latter has a series of variations with prominence rotating
between the instruments. The subsequent finale is marked
Rondo alla turca. These performances are spirited
The Cello Sonata
is very grand sounding in this performance, partly a result
of tempi which tend to be on the slow side and partly relating
to the big sound of Pal Banda’s cello. His tone is impeccable
and there is good rapport with Susan Alexander-Max. Overall,
compared to Franz Bartolomey’s performance, honours are
about even and choice can safely rest on couplings and one’s
reaction to the sound of the fortepiano.
The sound quality
on this disc is natural and the instruments are generally
well-balanced in a rather resonant acoustic. The accompanying
notes are good far as they go but could perhaps have done
more to put the works played here in the wider context of
Hummel’s chamber music. I had to “Google” to find out (from
MusicWeb!) about the existence of Hummel’s other piano trios.
is fair value and an inexpensive way of sampling the music
on offer. Don Satz’s review suggests that if the Piano
Trios are of particular interest it would be better to go
straight to the Trio Parnassus.
by Jonathan Woolf