Although Hummel is still regarded by many as a marginal composer, his revival is well underway, particularly during the last five years or so, when many recording companies have invested in his large repertoire with deserving success.
Born in 1778, Hummel was a hugely talented boy. After initial lessons with his father in the late 1880's, he went to live with Mozart for two years where he received free lessons. This interlude was of decisive importance in Hummel's musical development and when still a young man, his fame as a phenomenal pianist quickly spread. In 1804, with Haydn's help, he became leader of the Esterhazy Court Orchestra. In 1816, he was appointed Kappellmeister at the Stuttgart Court and from 1819 till the end of his life in 1837, he occupied the same post at the Weimar Court.
Of a difficult nature and prone to fits of neglect of his duties, Hummel is nonetheless a composer of many heart warming pieces and his rediscovery is long overdue. The three works on this disc are prime examples of Viennese Classicism at its best. Apart from the extremely catchy tunes, these magical pieces are also imbued with several twists and turns that never fail to surprise, not least the 'Finale' of Op. 63, where Mozart's Overture, 'Le Nozze di Figaro' is thrown in for good measure; a la' Hummel of course!
Still, what really impressed me is the absolutely hypnotic sound world that Hummel conjures up from the combination of instruments in the Op. 63 and 66 Serenades. The Consortium Classicum's approach is full of warmth and polish, injecting the music with a vibrancy and sparkle that sustain the listener with ongoing joy. A peach of a disc, of some unfamiliar but truly ravishing music which should be in everyone's library, irrespective of age and taste.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech