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Cat. No. CHAN 0765 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0765 - Hummel: Sonatas/ La contemplazione
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Available From: 01 November 2009
Finalist in the International Bach Competition, Susan Alexander-Max is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, and a native of New York City. Her previous recording of chamber music by Hummel was awarded top ratings from BBC Music Magazine and was received throughout the world to outstanding critical acclaim. Highlights of her performances include some of the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals, including the Cheltenham International Festival of Music; Queen’s Festival of Early Music, Belfast; the English Haydn Festival; the Haydn Festival, Eisenstadt, Austria; the Vleeshuis Museum, Antwerp; and the Prague Spring International Festival of Music.

Susan Alexander-Max performs these rarely recorded sonatas on a Joseph Brodmann fortepiano built in Vienna in 1814. It is the first time they have been recorded on a period instrument. During his stay in Vienna between 1811 and 1816, Johann Nepomuk Hummel very probably knew and played the Brodmann pianofortes, identical to the one in the collection at the Museé de la musique where the performances were recorded.

“…This is a fine addition to the recorded discography of Hummel’s music. I would especially recommend it for period-instrument enthusiasts…”
Scott Noriega

Fanfare - March/April 2010

  "The use of the historical piano brings transparency to this music, giving it elegance and necessary lightness. The artist’s skillful  playing brings the best characteristics of the instrument..."  ****
Pawel Siwczak

Musical Opinion - March/April 2010

…“My main pleasure in listening to this album was the marvellous instrument which Susan Alexander-Max plays; it is an 1814 Joseph Brodmann fortepiano, with a marvellously warm sound, somewhat less vivid in color than modern instruments but possessive of its own kind of beauty. Connoisseurs of fortepianos will want to hear this CD …” “… this is one of the most attractive instruments I’ve heard and thus one of those I would be most likely to recommend to a newcomer to period performances.

“Alexander-Max herself plays with dedication and poetry, very much committed to the advocacy of these works. The Chandos sound is very good, and in sum this is a good find for admirers of the era and the fortepiano, or for those interested in Hummel and the contemporaries of Beethoven …”
Brian Reinhart


MusicWeb International - February 2010

“…Alexander-Max’s  persuasive playing, and her excellent programme note, make a convincing case for the reappraisal of Hummel’s piano music, and leave me wondering at the received wisdom which rates his sonatas so much lower than Beethoven’s. They are highly original works whose idiom must certainly be classed as ‘early romantic’ – there are ‘re-echoes’ of Schubert and even Chopin at time – while at the same time they look back to ‘classical’ sonata form as Hummel must have inherited it from Mozart during his two years as a live-in pupil. This recording should be required listening for anyone with an interest in the piano music of Beethoven and his contemporaries.”
Richard Maunder

Early Music Review - February 2010

                             **** Performance    **** Recording
George Pratt

BBC Music Magazine - January 2010

“Persuasive performances of music by a major contemporary of Beethoven.”
“…Susan Alexander-May, playing on a reproduction fortepiano of the period, is a most persuasive interpreter. … she brings out the underlying liveliness, reflecting the impact that this music in the composer’s hands made on audiences.”
Edward Greenfield

Gramophone - February 2010

“…The overall effect is very impressive and Susan Alexander-Max gives a powerful performance. …The CD is completed by a short Bagatelle, composed in 1825, at about the same time as Beethoven was composing his Op.126 set. It is a delightful piece which gives Alexander-Max the opportunity to show off the various tonal effects of her fortepiano. I, for one, will certainly look out for more music by Hummel and hope that he is given performances as persuasive as these.”
Peter Marchbank


International Record Review - January 2010


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