Hummel at the Opera

Hummel at the Opera

by Madoka Inui
     
 

This fine Naxos release fills a gap between the pure virtuoso tradition of operatic paraphrases and potpourris on one hand, and the more ambitious treatments of preexisting material by Franz Liszt on the other. Although Naxos doesn't claim them as world recording premieres, these pieces by Johann Nepomuk Hummel have surely seen precious few performances since they… See more details below

Overview

This fine Naxos release fills a gap between the pure virtuoso tradition of operatic paraphrases and potpourris on one hand, and the more ambitious treatments of preexisting material by Franz Liszt on the other. Although Naxos doesn't claim them as world recording premieres, these pieces by Johann Nepomuk Hummel have surely seen precious few performances since they fell out of fashion in the middle of the 19th century. Hummel was a contemporary and sometimes a rival of Beethoven, and several of these pieces contain something of the way Beethoven had of taking comic material seriously. Consider the opening set of "Variations on Vivat Bacchus" from Mozart's "Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Op. 34/3," where Mozart's comic treatment of the Turkish potentate exposed for the first time to alcohol gives birth to the very Beethovenian variation 9 (track 4). The "Variations on a Theme from Gluck's Armide, Op. 57," are similarly substantial, with a chromatic slow movement giving way to a contrapuntal finale. The "Grand Fantasia on Oberons Zauberhorn (Oberon's Magic Horn), Op. 116," was Hummel's entry in a growing market of pieces based on Weber's operas; Liszt, who was 18 when it appeared and already experimenting, may well have heard it and been influenced by it. The closest Hummel comes to the pure Romantic potboiler is the "Potpourri No. 1" from the "Opera Die Eselshaut (The Donkey Skin), Op. 58," but even this is a colorful, attractive set of pictorial pieces. Pianist Madoka Inui delivers fine performances, favoring crisp articulation over volume in music that was still written for fortepiano-like instruments; she handles the considerable technical challenges confidently. Add in good sound from a Viennese studio, and you have a release that effectively recovers a lost corner of the early 19th century.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/28/2011
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313273676
catalogNumber:
8572736
Rank:
222969

Tracks

  1. Quintor des nègres, for the ballet "Paul et Virginie," Op. 41  - Johann Nepomuk Hummel  - Madoka Inui  - John Simmons
  2. Variations on a theme from Gluck's "Armide" for piano in F major, Op. 57  - Johann Nepomuk Hummel  - Madoka Inui  - John Simmons
  3. Variations on "Vivat Bachus" from Mozart's "Die entfürung aus dem Serail" for piano in C major, Op. 34/3  - Johann Nepomuk Hummel  - Madoka Inui  - John Simmons
  4. Oberons Zauberhorn, fantasy for piano & orchestra, Op. 116  - Johann Nepomuk Hummel  - Madoka Inui  - John Simmons

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