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Cat. No. CHAN 10374 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10374 - Hummel: L'Enchantment d'Oberon
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Available From: 01 March 2006
L’Enchantment d’Oberon, a fantaisie caractéristique for piano and orchestra, was composed in November 1830 as one of a series of compositions to be used in a tour of France and England the following year. It belongs to a class of works whose aim is less the seriousness of the concerto and rather more to be shorter, highly colourful and unfailingly entertaining pieces. Clearly influenced by Weber’s opera Oberon, this ‘fantasy’ was likely written in tribute to Weber, who had died only three years before. The title and circumstances of the next work, Le retour à Londres, give an interesting insight into the politics of concert-giving in the early nineteenth century. Most virtuoso-composers wrote a ‘return to…’ and a ‘farewell to…’ when on tour, in the spirit of urban and national flattery. This example was written for Hummel’s first grand farewell tour of 1831 and here receives its premiere recording. The Piano Concerto in A major is one of two early piano concertos in that key. Comparison with other works for piano and orchestra from this period would suggest a date of composition near the turn of the century, c.1798, when Hummel was just ending his teens. The concerto is extremely confident and competent for someone of that age and bears testimony to what he absorbed from his principal teacher, Mozart. The form is indeed Mozartian as is the handling of thematic and harmonic material. This is a very restrained Hummel composition, yet in the Rondo finale is reminiscent of Haydn in its popular appeal.
Reviews

   Artistic Quality 9      Sound Quality 9
"This program is simply delicious... As with other releases in this series, Howard Shelley plays Hummel with elegance and flair. Much of this music, particularly in the shorter concert works, is very brilliant and highly decorative, but Shelley never makes you feel as though it consists of empty note-spinning. The London Mozart Players accompany sensitively and with aplomb. A good time was clearly had by all, including the engineers, who provide vivid sonics."

David Hurwitz - classicstoday.com - March 2012

Certainly, if you have a taste for this music, you‘ll find this a welcome release
Fanfare

Shelley…is outstanding in this music, synthesizing the classical and romantic elements perfectly. A natural Mozartian, he allies his poise and clarity to a fearless technique, and absorbs Hummel’s most ostentatious demands into the musical fabric, giving the decorative solo part the necessary grace and piquancy.
Gramophone ‘Critics’ Choice’ of January 2000 on CHAN 9867 (Hummel)

Collectors of the series can rest assured that this latest volume fully sustains the high standard already set. Shelley couldn’t play a dull or ugly note if his life depended on it, so all those long-spun, mellifluous cantilenas flow with a meltingly lovely tone, and when the music begins to dance and goes into note-overdrive, he makes everything sound vital and compelling, never merely ‘notey’. Judging by the London Mozart Players’ devoted and foot-tappingly accurate playing throughout this series, Shelley is also no mean baton-waver. Recommended with the greatest enthusiasm.

Howard Shelley’s elegant disc with the LMP, which includes the premiere of the jaunty Le Retour à Londres, offers a fair survey of a composer caught between the disciplines of Classical style and the rebellion of Romanticism.
Independent on Sunday

All these pieces, plus the purely orchestral variations on the tune of ‘O du lieber Augustin’ (which curiously throws in a ‘Turkish’ percussion ensemble), are vividly performed by the London Mozart Players, while pianist Howard Shelley throws off Hummel’s copious cascades of notes with appropriate panache.
BBC Music Magazine

Howard Shelley has been systematically recording Hummel’s works for piano and orchestra for Chandos. Each one has been highly rated in these pages and this one is no different. The recording is superb, the notes are good, and the playing is outstanding.
American Record Guide

Shelley’s gifts of agility and articulation mean he can make such decorative writing a delight. Even if you might dismiss much of this as mere note spinning, Shelley’s sparkling playing is winning… As ever in this Chandos series, the first-rate recording is clear and vivid, warm and full.
Gramophone

…this heartlifting disc will delight more than just lovers of piano virtuosity
The Observer

 

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