Hummel is one of those composers who is probably only known to the general public through his trumpet and mandolin concertos which have received some recognition in the past couple of decades. In addition to these works I had the pleasure of hearing the Delmé Quartet play one of his quartets about 1994 and that was of interest.
MWI has reviewed a fair number of his compositions and these include several discs of the piano trios, which are predominantly in the full price bracket. It is good therefore that the Gould Piano Trio are embarking on a series of these works, well performed and recorded with good notes and at Naxos upper bargain price.
Playing this disc straight through and being unfamiliar with these works previously lead me to certain conclusions. Firstly, although there is a gap of 15 years between the earliest work and the latest, Trio No. 2
and Trio No. 7,
there are no great signs of progression. The music is melodic and is reminiscent of early Beethoven without the latter’s depth and development. Secondly there seems to be an absence of a strong personality despite clear signs of the composer’s ease with the medium. The themes and variations in Trio No. 3
are very pleasant without the originality of Beethoven’s Op. 1 No. 3. Trio No. 6
shows indebtedness to Mozart and is certainly very tuneful but hopes for real individuality are never realized. Thirdly, if one is new to these trios these performances are very accomplished
It may be pertinent to point out that Hummel was a virtuoso pianist and violinist and this certainly shows in these trios. Some commentators feel that the piano is too prominent in these works but there are certainly times when the violin comes to the fore. Here the playing of Lucy Gould deserves special mention. The cello is less dominant in these trios which is I suppose a left-over from those of Haydn.
This disc contains an hour of melodic music, well executed and should appeal to anyone interested in nineteenth century chamber music. I will be looking forward to the next volume.
David R Dunsmore
Previous review: David Barker