Hummel: Piano Septets 1 & 2
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|Audio CD, June 1, 2010||
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Johann Nepomuk Hummel was born in what is now Bratislava, but in the late 18th century was called Pressburg, and was part of the Austrian Habsburg Empire. A precocious child he soon displayed great skill on both piano and violin. His studies in Vienna with Mozart (he was taken on by Mozart as a student when he was just 6 years old), Salieri and Albrechstberger gave him the best musical education possible. It also saw him strike up a long, but turbulent, friendship with Ludwig van Beethoven. These two young men were for many years the greatest virtuoso pianists in Vienna. Beethoven thought highly of Hummel, and during Hummel's lifetime his reputation was as a composer to rival Beethoven. His musical style provides a direct link with Mozart through to Chopin, who openly admitted his debt to the older composer. His music is wonderfully crafted, often dramatic, and for the pianist often very demanding. The two works on this new CD showcase Hummel at his best. The large scale D minor septet is a first-rate composition. The piano has an extremely taxing part, but everything is beautifully written for the other instruments. It can stand alongside Beethoven's op20 septet as one of the most popular chamber works of the 19th century, and for many years after his death was one of only a few of his works that remained in the repertoire.