Johann Nepomuk Hummel

0 of 5 stars

Piano Concerto in C, Op.34
Rondo brillant in A, Op.56
Rondo brillant in B flat, Op.98

London Mozart Players
Howard Shelley (piano)

Recorded in June 2003 in St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: June 2004
Duration: 68 minutes

The concerto opens with a few bars of ceremony before a radiant exposition is established; this could be an operatic overture – woodwinds trill and shape beguilingly, a festive occasion is suggested. Johann Nepomuk Hummel apes Mozart at times, yet has his own sense of adventure. The pianist, the ebullient Howard Shelley, enters with a flourish. Contrasts of trumpet-and-drum brilliance and woodwind-inflected light-hearted lyricism offer no profundity yet gladdens the time spent listening. Chopin’s in there too, especially in the ornamentation that the pianist has to negotiate, all done with musicianship and verve by Shelley, the London Mozart Players delighting the ear with its colours and commitment. The rather solemn Adagio offers deeper expression, still with glinting roulades in attendance, and the finale, while a little trite, sparkles ebulliently. Deft and theatrical touches coexist, and the work closes with Beethovenian punch.

The Rondos are recorded for the first time (in orchestral guise so far as Op.56 is concerned). The various episodes of both offer much pleasure; beautifully crafted, pleasantly melodic and gleaming listening. One appreciates Shelley’s mercurial touch and variety of nuance, and the recording captures some authentic resonance while ensuring a good balance between piano and orchestra and plenty of clarity. An enjoyable release of perky and charming music.

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