Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 26 (Chamber Arrangements by Hummel)

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 26 (Chamber Arrangements by Hummel)

by Fumiko Shiraga
     
 

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It is wonderful that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is experiencing a surge of support in 2006, the 250th anniversary of his birth. For many listeners, it is a matter of embracing what is already out there in terms of Mozart's music, certainly not all of the 800-plus compositions that have come down from his prodigious pen, but generally of the 25 or so works that constitute… See more details below

Overview

It is wonderful that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is experiencing a surge of support in 2006, the 250th anniversary of his birth. For many listeners, it is a matter of embracing what is already out there in terms of Mozart's music, certainly not all of the 800-plus compositions that have come down from his prodigious pen, but generally of the 25 or so works that constitute his "hits." Nevertheless, these pieces are so prevalent that one cannot be blamed for wondering what is "new" that Mozart has to offer. One could dig into his canons, opera aria inserts, and other obscurities in search of undiscovered jewels, and truly, there are some remarkable and fulfilling items to be found there. For something that seems a little closer to the mainstream, and requiring far less diligence in terms of culling through the bottom drawers of Mozart's hope chest, one might consider pianist Fumiko Shiraga's outstanding Bis release Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 26, which presents these well-known concerti in Johann Nepomuk Hummel's arrangements for piano, flute, violin, and cello. These aren't just ordinary reductions of Mozart's orchestral and piano originals -- Hummel was thoroughly professional at this kind of endeavor, and had been Mozart's student. He may have attended the premiere of the "Piano Concerto No. 26 in D major (Coronation) K. 537," with Mozart himself as soloist, at Dresden in March 1789. As Mozart's own manuscript of this work is incompletely filled out, and as the familiar concert version was created by anonymous editors at Breitkopf & Härtel no earlier than 1804, Hummel's version might be considered authoritative in a way that the conventional score is not. Neither this, nor the equally radiant companion recording of the popular "Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K. 482," would be of any considerable value to us now if the performances were of an echt-Musical Heritage Society quality, merely renderings of unfamiliar scores played adequately by disinterested participants. In the second movement of the "Coronation," Shiraga deftly achieves the literal manifestation of the "pearls on velvet" simile applied to Mozart's own playing in his lifetime. The instrumental trio flexes and flows with the soloist and never overshadows Shiraga, and in passages where Hummel carries over some notes from the tutti into the piano part, the resultant blend between instruments is seamless. The quality of Bis' recording also helps, as it is clear, intimate, and perfectly balanced. In a world where Mozart's piano concerti are often proffered as a sort of alternative to easy listening, here is a recording so rich in nuance and emotionally fulfilling that it rewards one's undivided attention. What's new about Mozart? This is it. These familiar concerti, clothed in chamber guise by an expert in the medium and friend to the composer, appear fresh, vital, and renewed in Bis and Shiraga's Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 26. In a year no doubt be filled with a lot of hype, tub-thumping, and nonsense about the world's most popular classical composer, it is heartening that the observance also brings a highly enjoyable and luminescent recording that serves to add a few more brush strokes to our still unfinished portrait of Mozart.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/29/2006
Label:
Bis
UPC:
7318590015377
catalogNumber:
1537
Rank:
144793

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Piano Concerto No. 26 in D major ("Coronation") K. 537  - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  - Robert von Bahr  - Fumiko Shiraga  - Tibor Bényi  - Hardy Brackmann  - Peter Clemente  - Henrik Wiese
  2. Piano Concerto No. 22 in E flat major, K. 482  - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  - Robert von Bahr  - Fumiko Shiraga  - Tibor Bényi  - Hardy Brackmann  - Peter Clemente  - Henrik Wiese

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