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Cat. No. CHAN 10415 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10415 - Hummel: Ballet Suites/ Twelve Waltzes and Coda
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Available From: 01 April 2007
Hummel now enjoys the popularity he deserves, thanks in part to the dedication of Howard Shelley. Shelley presents the latest in his series of Hummel works for Chandos and on this occasion shows a lesser-known side to Hummel’s compositional style: that of dance-composer. Vienna was well-known for its love for the dance and especially the waltz. Hummel composed a number of ballets for the choreographer and dancer Giulio Viganom who was the son and brother of more famous choreographer/dancers Onorato and Salvatore respectively: all three works receive their premiere recordings with this release.

The ‘Sappho’ Ballet suite is based on the Greek tragedy, Sappho. As was his habit, Hummel arranged the ballet for piano solo and published it as Op.68 in a series of his own works for piano called Repertoire da musique pour les dames. Hummel adapted some of the music for a different ballet some ten years later. The present suite begins with the overture, opening, surprisingly, with a pastoral section, which is taken from a later movement in the ballet, a practice that was not frequent at this time. The orchestration, with solo woodwinds and horns suggests the Imperial orchestra was well-endowed in these sections. Act I begins with an Andante maestoso, with the full orchestra, includes trumpets and timpani, one each of alto, tenor and bass trombones, adding much to the colour of the music. The suite uses many popular dances of the time including an ecossaise and waltz and the orchestration is challenging for many of the parts of the orchestra, which are given many solo passages throughout. Coupled with ‘Sappho’ is The ‘Zauberschloss’ ballet (the Magic Castle) which was never published. This multi-sectioned movement lasts only twenty minutes, which suggest, along with the character and its subject matter that it may have been a ballet for children, or perhaps intended as light relief from a more serious work. Hummel’s orchestra is unusually large, with two of each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoon and horns together with three trumpets. The great popularity of public dancing in the German-speaking lands was a good source of revenue for composers of the period. The popularity grew during the last twenty years of the eighteenth century when Emperor Joseph II, opened up public dancing to all levels of society. Hummel was well established as a dance-composer, especially for public dance halls, and Twelve Waltzes and Coda is a prime example.

Howard Shelley and the London Mozart Players bring together a unique CD of rare Hummel works, and shine light on a less-known side of Hummel’s compositional style.

Hummel is shown in a new light in these premiere recordings. Shelley lends a his usual classy touch to these attractive works.
Classic FM Magazine

Howard Shelley’s light touch, fresh and colourful orchestral playing, and excellent recording, make this very well worth hearing on its own account, not simply as a rediscovered rarity.
BBC Music Magazine

For the most part the music as pastoral and engaging, with plenty of opportunities for sol orchestral contributions. Cheerfully urged on by Howard Shelley, the London Mozart Players rise to these occasions with relish, and the Chandos recording is careful to keep them lucid but still within an orchestral balance.
International Record Review


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