Hummel – His Music
Hummel was prolific as a concerto writer in his early years, particularly for some relatively unusual instruments.
The Trumpet Concerto (1803)
Opens Allegro Spirito and briefly you think "Mozart, Haffner Symphony". This was written as a fun piece and that is exactly what it is, felicitous writing with the spirit of Mozart in the orchestra and the keyed trumpet showing it’s new found virtuosity with a delightful melody. The Andante sings, with more than a touch of Mozart’s C major Piano Concerto, what better model? Listen to the trills of the flutes and oboes that appear on occasion. The short concluding Rondo swings along and suddenly out of nowhere he drops in Cherubini’s popular march theme, an ideal build up to a scintillating conclusion.
Recommended recording: **** Hardenburger, Academy of St.Martins in the field, Marriner, Philips Duo: 464028–2.
The Violin Concerto (c.1803)
This work was never completed, except for the solo part. At least two performing versions have been created from the manuscript and show a very appealing compact work, with a violin part that demands considerable virtuosity and with Mozart’s influence relatively low. Thematically it is strong. The opening movement is lyrical and elegant. The Adagio is too brief, a soulful song for the violin, a gentle string accompaniment. It fades out to usher in the Rondo, a dancing movement, the soloist soaring above an orchestra relatively subdued.
Recommended recording: Ehnes, London Mozart Players, cond. Howard Shelley, Chandos CHAN10255. Also a Naxos recording **(*) 8.557595
The Bassoon Concerto (ca. 1805)
Opens with a particularly gracious first movement. The following Romanza is a beautiful aria, the bassoon gruff, but answered by a sweet oboe, at times in duet, before a significant solo cadenza, then a serene ending. The concluding Rondo opens in strolling ¾ time with a jaunty theme. The bassoon struts his stuff, accompanied discretely, and then accelerates into the home street. An excellent and attractive bassoon concerto.
Recommended recording: *** Popov, Russian State Symphony Orchestra, CHAN9656.
Mandolin concerto (1799)
A jaunty theme opens this charming – particularly if you like the sound of the mandolin – entertainment. Hummel revisited the work with a piano version years later (see above). The orchestra has to be restrained in accompaniment and the style is Mozartian. The slow movement is a delicate theme and variations, and the concluding Rondo borrows from Mozart’s last Piano Concerto.
Recommended recording: Stephens, London Mozart Players, cond. Howard Shelley, Chandos CHAN9925.
Concerto for Piano&Violin Op.17 (1805)
The Mozartian influence is still strong. This is Hummel’s Sinfonia Concertante effectively, but for a rare combination, which works very well. It is a over half–an–hour long, melodically very fine and in the opening Allegro con brio the piano tends to dominate, but when the violin gets a solo slot it is very effective. The extended cadenza is a high spot. The Andante con moto is a theme and variations – the theme itself delightful and the mood is playful throughout. The concluding Rondo is jaunty and rounds of an appealing work that, would be well known if it had Mozart’s signature. Recommended recording: *** Shaham, Howard Shelley, London Mozart Players, cond. Howard Shelley. Chandos CHAN9687. Also a Naxos recording **(*) 8.557595