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Cat. No. CHAN 10216 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10216 - Hummel: Piano Concerto in C/ Rondo Brillants
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Available From: 14 June 2004
There are about eighteen works for solo piano and orchestra in Hummel’s output, of which eight are concertos. The Piano Concerto in C major is his first mature work of this kind. It is half as long again as any other of his concerti, and the symphonic cut of much of the orchestral writing, the effective instrumentation and the piano’s restrained virtuosity show that the young composer was intent that this would not just be another concerted firework-display. In fact, the parallels with a much more famous concerto, Beethoven’s last (No. 5, the ‘Emperor’), are striking. Both were written in 1809, which saw the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon’s troops, and, interestingly, both were dedicated to Beethoven’s patron, the Archduke Rudolph of Austria, Hummel’s receiving its first performance during the celebrations for the Archduke’s marriage.

The concert rondo, one of several forms for solo instrument with orchestra other than the concerto during the early nineteenth century, can be considered a concerto in tabloid form, although this belies the quality of such works, the present ones included. The shape, ‘a rondo preceded by a slow introduction’, can be traced to the concerto’s second movement and finale.

The Rondo brillant in B flat was published in Vienna in 1824 and in his letter offering it to the publisher Peters, Hummel describes it as ‘one of my nicest works… and not fiendishly difficult’. It was composed for his Russian tour of 1822.

The Rondo brillant in A was published (in solo-piano form) in about 1814 in a periodical series called Répertoire de musique pour les dames, and it says much for the dames of Vienna that amateurs such as themselves could tackle a work of such difficulty.
Reviews

'Complete with penetrating liner notes, this CD offers a much-needed apologia for the music of a remarkable and underrated composer. Warmly recommended.'
Pianist

'This forms part of an ongoing cycle of all Hummel's works for piano and orchestra being undertaken by Howard Shelley and the London Mozart Players. And long may it flourish - it is hard to imagine a more sheerly pleasurable listening experience than this.'
International Record Review

'This is far and away the best entry yet in Shelley's Hummel cycle.'
American Record Guide

'Shelley's playing throughout is dazzling , clean and precise in all the cascades of virtuoso fingerwork, and with beautifully inflected decorative lines in the slower music, reminding us of Hummel's influence on Chopin. And Shelley somehow manages to combine this with purposeful direction of the orchestra - which responds with first-rate playing, notebly from the woodwind.'
BBC Music Magazine

''this one is every bit as fine as its predecessors, with full, open, well-balanced sound nand sparkling performances' These are rarities well worth sampling, unlikely to be performed or recorded better.'
Gramophone

 

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