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 Post subject: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:07 pm 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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Piano Concerto No. 2 in A minor, Op.85 (1816)
Allegro moderato
Larghetto
Rondo: Allegro moderato

Even into the twenty first century, Hummel's music is being assessed and reassessed, always with the view that his genius has been consistently underrated. His piano concertos are among his greatest accomplishments, and he might have excelled in the symphony too, had he not taken to heart so seriously his rivalry with Beethoven. Hummel's Second and Third piano concertos are undoubtedly his most popular, though even they have enjoyed paltry few recordings and relatively meager representation in the concert halls.

The A minor Second is cast in three movements: a lengthy Allegro moderato is followed by a very brief Larghetto and a substantial Rondo (Allegro moderato). The first movement opens with a long orchestral introduction wherein the striking main theme is immediately presented by the strings, a theme whose character is both restless and heroic, looking back toward the darker side of Mozart as well as to the contemporary grandiosity of Beethoven. An alternate melody follows, a jovial, proud creation introduced by the flute. When the piano enters, it gives a lighter treatment to the thematic material that is lighter in touch, but not in emotional expressivity. Hummel's development is full of deft elaborations and brilliant piano writing. His orchestration will recall Beethoven's throughout this movement, but his music has an individuality and great beauty, even if his contrapuntal skills fall a bit short of his great rival's.

The short second movement Larghetto serves as a kind of pleasant interlude between the two larger outer panels. The theme here is delicate and graceful in its Classical sweetness, its music having an almost mesmerizing serenity making one wish it would linger beyond its lovely five minutes. The Rondo finale follows without pause, the piano introducing a somewhat exotic rhythmic theme that gradually picks up momentum and richer textures. The music is striking here, the melody instantly sticking in the mind, so much so as to make the alternate material initially sound less interesting by contrast. The more subdued music that alternates with this theme is revealed upon second and third hearing, however, to be just as finely imagined as the opening theme. In the end, this concerto must be assessed as standing on about the same plateau as Beethoven's first two piano concertos.

More at allmusic.com


I have no planned structure this thread, so the concertos can and will appear in random order. However it appears Nr2 is the most popular so I have started with that. Here is the best recording I could find from those at YT (couldn't find a fortepiano version alas). Stephen Hough on piano, with Bryden Thomson directing the English Chamber Orchestra...
Click button to:
I. Allegro moderato


II. Larghetto


III. Rondo: Allegro moderato

Enjoy! Any comments, recommendations etc welcome. More from me shortly.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:31 pm 
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Some good friends in Germany put me onto Hummel 20 years ago. I find him very agreeable, more lyrical and virtuoso than LvB. He possibly doesn't say as much as Beethoven, but what the heck?
I will give your posts a listen soon.
Adam


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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:30 am 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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Phlogiston wrote:
Some good friends in Germany put me onto Hummel 20 years ago. I find him very agreeable, more lyrical and virtuoso than LvB. He possibly doesn't say as much as Beethoven, but what the heck?
I will give your posts a listen soon.
Adam

It is interesting the allmusic.com writer rates Nr2 on a par with Beethoven's first two concertos, written of course many years earlier. That thought will be in mind then I go though the videos.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:36 pm 
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Rod,

I only gave the concerto a single listen but I was somewhat disappointed because I expected the Hummel of his Trumpet Concerto which has a muscular Beethoven quality that the Piano Concerto #2 lacks. I will have to give it another try when I am in a more receptive frame of mind I guess.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:01 pm 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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Digiti wrote:
Rod,
I only gave the concerto a single listen but I was somewhat disappointed because I expected the Hummel of his Trumpet Concerto which has a muscular Beethoven quality that the Piano Concerto #2 lacks. I will have to give it another try when I am in a more receptive frame of mind I guess.

Well Beethoven and Hummel are quite different musical creatures so I wouldn't be expecting to hear too much of the former from the latter. One usually expects to hear something more akin to Mozart from Hummel. That said, I found the first movement of the A minor not without some muscularity, some quite stormy episodes interspersed with the expected lighter textures reflecting his Classical tendencies, such as that dainty little march, but some of it is appealingly seductive. Trouble is you get all of these things before we hear a single note from the piano, the movement could have plausibly ended at the end of the opening orchestral tutti! Beethoven's approach is quite different in this respect, less material given a more expensive treatment.

Back to the A-minor, once the piano kicks in where hear something quite different, proto-Romantic flourishes in the treble dominate much of the proceedings, and that came as something of a surprise. But as the movement continues the proliferation of 'episodes' comes back to mind, which affects the music's coherence somewhat, even after a few listens. But I've made the same critisism of Mozart in this respect. Although overall I found this quite an entertaining movement, because of these structural issues in particular, unlike the above writer I would not place this movement on a par with those of Beethoven's concertos Nrs 1 and 2. Nevertheless I'm sure a lot of people would like this Hummel piece.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:41 pm 
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Been listening to the videos of the last two movements of the A minor. The Larghetto is shorter than I was expecting at four and a half mins. Not quite an interlude, but not delivering a sense of being a fully contained movement either. Either way Hummel presents us with two worlds once more, the Classisism from the orchestra and the proto-Romantic piano. Quite appealing. The brilliant finale is easily the best movement, more coherent and stylistically consistent than the first. Also the most consistently Romantic sounding of the three. I'm not sure what that fugal material is doing in there, but a nice piece for those of a Romantic persuasion, Chopin fans in particular.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:42 am 
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Hummel Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Minor

I have only had a passing acquaintance with Hummel’s work so far but have liked what I have heard. Infact I find it difficult to understand why his name is not prominent amongst the major composers. I feel that so often it is not quality, but sheer luck, and being in the right place at the right time that puts someone on the ”A List”.

The videos attached by Rod made for very pleasant listening. In the 1st movement: allegro moderato, I was impressed with the lovely orchestral sound, the instrumentality and melodic quality. Stephen Hough’s performance on the piano was effortless and trickled along so fluently. The tone was pleasing despite being a modern piano, and the statement of the melodies was done so well. It was a lively and alive performance, with almost an excess of riches.

The 2nd movement, Larghetto had a splendid orchestral beginning with and then the piano trickles in sweetly. This movement was quieter with a serene, calming quality. The accompaniment felt rather Mozartish, especially the lower instrumental roles---I almost expected it to resolve into some familiar Mozart!

The 3rd movement---Rondo: Allegro moderato had a rich orchestration, a lively piano and was nicely melodic. The piano finale was virtuoistic!

This work of Hummel’s had some truly beautiful music and was very satisfying ---to at least---my soul!

I enjoyed it very much.

Regards,

Polly.


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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:29 pm 
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JOVE THE MIGHTY THUNDERER
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pollyp78 wrote:
Hummel Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Minor

I have only had a passing acquaintance with Hummel’s work so far but have liked what I have heard. Infact I find it difficult to understand why his name is not prominent amongst the major composers. I feel that so often it is not quality, but sheer luck, and being in the right place at the right time that puts someone on the ”A List”.

I think it is a little more than luck. Though fashions come and go too, what is consistent with most popular composers is that they have a distinctive personal style, and this is something that the likes of Hummel lack, for all otherwise meritable features their music may or may not possess. Telemann is another such composer. Somehow Schubert bucked this trend but that's another story!

pollyp78 wrote:
The videos attached by Rod made for very pleasant listening. In the 1st movement: allegro moderato, I was impressed with the lovely orchestral sound, the instrumentality and melodic quality. Stephen Hough’s performance on the piano was effortless and trickled along so fluently. The tone was pleasing despite being a modern piano, and the statement of the melodies was done so well. It was a lively and alive performance, with almost an excess of riches.

The 2nd movement, Larghetto had a splendid orchestral beginning with and then the piano trickles in sweetly. This movement was quieter with a serene, calming quality. The accompaniment felt rather Mozartish, especially the lower instrumental roles---I almost expected it to resolve into some familiar Mozart!

The 3rd movement---Rondo: Allegro moderato had a rich orchestration, a lively piano and was nicely melodic. The piano finale was virtuoistic!

This work of Hummel’s had some truly beautiful music and was very satisfying ---to at least---my soul!

I enjoyed it very much.

Regards,

Polly.

There is some very good music in this concerto (in particular the Rondo) but the fact that it sounds so stylistically variable I suspect works against its popularity today, relatively speaking. In terms of artistic style I'd say it is better to be one thing or another than something 'transitional', especially in the absence of any 'killer' melodies. Beethoven always equipped his material with something personal and memorable, something much harder to achieve that mere technical brilliance, which is why I guess the allmusic.com writer (rather generously) rates this relatively late-Classical piece only on a par with Beethoven's much earlier concertos. Anyway thanks for the comments, I'll be presenting another concerto soon in this thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:46 am 
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Hi TMT,
I think that I understand what factors elevate great composers from the common herd, but I am finding it difficult to phrase my thoughts, knowing that a careless word will have you striking with hawk-like accuracy!!!

Hummel wrote music that was very much of his period, as did so many others whom I have encountered on YouTube. I see that whilst this music is very pleasant it has nothing that really uplifts it from “run of the mill”.

Having established that the major composers all had that special something, that was theirs only, we have to examine them to see what it is.

I haven’t the expertise to make definitive statements about them, but to me Beethoven has a “bite” to his music, a special energy that is hard to describe, as it changes with whatever he writes. His symphonic music is extremely rich in texture, his lieder are so melodic and expressive---whether it's humour, happiness or tragedy, his funeral march is tragic---I really don’t know enough to go on. But it is always recognisable as Beethoven!

Handel has a special touch---all his own. He effortlessly writes such beautiful melodies for his works and arias for his vocalists. But what I love best is his ceremonial music which gives such a wonderful sense of occasion. It speaks for itself that Handel is still woven into the Coronation ceremony of our monarch! Then there are his great oratorios---he is almost matchless at creating these---and the music always has a special Handel quality---but please don’t ask me to explain myself!

After JS Bach's death there was a hiatus before, he was rediscovered; from there on he has not looked back. We owe a debt of gratitude to Felix Mendelssohn who recognised the worth of the Bach's work. Later, other composers have acknowledged the role Bach has had in their musical development. His work is instantly recognisable with its repeated fugal themes and contrapuntal interleavings. I am not at all mathematical so I am rather woolly about that side of his compostion, but those who have a real understanding of musical theory learn from studying him. I experience great pleasure and satisfaction in listening to most of his music, loving the rocking rhythm which suffuses some of his work.

Unfortunately his talented sons and also other Bach relatives, well known for their musical output and keyboard prowess when alive, were, many years later, overshadowed by JSB’s reputation.

Wolfgang Mozart has become very popular as so many derive pleasure in listening to his melodic music. His father, Leopold, no mean composer, was overshadowed by the son, a fact that distressed Wolfgang’s son. Personally I find Leopold’s music very agreeable .

Most later composers were taught or mentored by someone with significant talent, so owe much of their own development to such influences. I can readily recall three in particular whose influenced other or younger composers and musicians ---they were JS Bach, Joseph Haydn and Leopold Mozart. Of course young Mozart, whilst travelling around Europe, was exposed to many musical influences. Handel, too, experienced other than Germanic traditions when he was in Italy and England and thus enriched their own work.

I could go on and on, as I haven’t touched upon Haydn, or Mendelssohn. There were Stamitz and many others who never achieved fame but who composed pleasant, and often beautiful music. Perhaps they hadn't the right influence or patronage. Perhaps just a small change of fortune would have affected the fall of the dice? I hope that in my meanderings the gist of what I am trying to say shines through.

I await correction at least, but am more likely to be shot down on so many points . Never mind, all this is a learning experience isn’t it?

Regards,

Polly.


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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:04 pm 
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pollyp78 wrote:

...I await correction at least, but am more likely to be shot down on so many points . Never mind, all this is a learning experience isn’t it?

Regards,

Polly.

Nothing to shoot you down on really, though I'd say the 'abandonment' of Bach is traditionally overplayed somewhat, certainly considering most of Handel's far more numerous big works were abandoned for far longer.

Anyway we have strayed way off topic. I promise a new Hummel concerto post tomorrow.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:23 pm 
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Piano Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op.89 (1819)
Allegro moderato
Larghetto
Finale: Vivace

The Piano Concerto No. 3 in B minor consists of three movements and has an almost identical structure to that of the Second. The opening panel is a lengthy Allegro moderato and there follows a subdued, short Larghetto, after which comes the Vivace finale, which finally breaks the pattern of the Second, whose closing movement is an Allegro moderato Rondo.

The Third's first movement begins with an orchestral introduction that presents an intense, somewhat heroic main theme played by the winds, a theme whose direct manner has immediate appeal, sounding almost like a lost Beethoven melody. An alternate theme of playful, almost carefree character soon appears. When the piano enters, it does not reprise the main theme in the manner of Beethoven with his contemporary "Emperor" Piano Concerto. Hummel leaves statements of it to the orchestra, compensating with brilliantly inventive keyboard writing, whether in the deft presentation of the alternate theme or in the sublime development section.

The second movement is a subdued Larghetto, featuring a lengthy introduction by horns that present the lovely main theme. The ensuing piano's rendition of it is vastly superior in its imaginative sense of intimacy and sweetness. The keyboard writing throughout the central panel is touching, especially in the final statement of the main theme.

The Vivace Finale follows without pause, the piano presenting the playful main theme as Hummel once again creates an utterly memorable tune. Allusions to the main theme from the first movement appear amid later material, but the mood remains buoyant and light right up to its colorful ending. In sum, one must assess this nearly 40-minute piano concerto as at least a minor masterpiece, deserving of far greater attention than it has gotten.

More at allmusic.com


For initial consideration here is a performance at Youtube again by Stephen Hough on piano and the English Chamber Orchestra directed by Bryden Thomson...
Click button to:
I. Allegro moderato


II. Larghetto


III. Finale: Vivace


Enjoy! Any comments etc. welcome.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:58 pm 
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Rod Corkin wrote:
Piano Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op.89 (1819)

For initial consideration here is a performance at Youtube again by Stephen Hough on piano and the English Chamber Orchestra directed by Bryden Thomson...
Click button to:
I. Allegro moderato


II. Larghetto


III. Finale: Vivace


Enjoy! Any comments etc. welcome.

Another impressive proto-Romantic piece from Hummel. More stylistically consistent and coherent than Nr2, lovers of Romantic music in particular will wonder how this piece has not become a staple of the repertoire. The slow movement opens unusually with mournful brass that reminds me a bit of Beethoven's earlier 'Equali' for trombones. The performance above featuring Stephen Hough is very good, though a period instrument rendition of the same standard would be more interesting still.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:41 am 
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Hummel Piano Concerto No 3 in B minor, Opus89.

I love the graphic of what looks to be a threatening storm approaching over the sea-scape, which graced all three movements.

I Allegro--- Fittingly the 1st movement began in a broodingly thoughtful way. One could sense the approach of the storm! Then more positive assertive statements were made by the orchestra, whose nice sound was polished and sophisticated. The introduction was rather long and it was not until 3.45 that the piano made its entrance with tonally pleasing and melodic passages. The first movement was continued on a 2nd video clip. Here the pianist, Stephen Hough, showed his virtuosity in his fluent technique.and the accompanying orchestra complemented and added to the piano performance.

II LarghettoThe trumpet opening was rather mournful---the effect no doubt exacerbated by the minor key, until the piano introduces a lighter note. Things then liven up,again with the trumpet entrance and then is joined by the piano sweeping in. The main melody is repeated by brass, piano and orchestra during this movement. Piano runs over the orchestra performance brings things to a serene ending.

III Finale—Vivace. The entrance is striking and then the piano is very busily engaged. This then continues with strong statements by both orchestra and piano. The pianist gives a sparkling performance and is accompanied by the orchestra. Both then combine to play the melody together, with the piano having a rather tinkly part--- orchestration is active and the piano part nice, light and melodic.

I liked this music, both the melodies, moods and the texture. Stephen Hough’s performance on the piano was extremely good. Piano Conncerto No 3 In B minor gave me an extremely pleasant listening experience.

Regards,

Polly.


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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:32 pm 
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pollyp78 wrote:
...I liked this music, both the melodies, moods and the texture. Stephen Hough’s performance on the piano was extremely good. Piano Concerto No 3 In B minor gave me an extremely pleasant listening experience.

Regards,

Polly.

Thanks for the comments Polly. Not exactly my kind of music, but given the standard of later Romantic concertos I don't know why the above two efforts from Hummel aren't better known. This Romantic trait in Hummel comes as a surprise as I've heard chamber music from him from around the same time that is far more Classical in nature.

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 Post subject: Re: Hummel - Piano Concertos
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:15 pm 
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This is an interesting thread. I got to know Hummel through the "golden age of the romantic piano concerto box" This one:



Image

In this box two piano concertos are included. The piano concerto Opus 110 in E. And the piano concertino, Opus 73 in G.

These are charming works with sometimes good, sometimes excellent tunes. The point is that Hummel isn't able to devellop his otherwise good material in a really smart way. His first sets which should show the composer at his most ambitious sound disappointing and a bit naiv. The other "lighter" sets show more of Hummel's talents. For example I like the Andante grazioso of Opus 73, very charming and the finale isn't bad. It's the same with Opus 110, the finale is absolutely brilliant, a wonderfull unstoppable tune.

So much for now. This thread is interesting. Hyperion hasn't made recordings of Hummels piano concertos. But I find some concertos at Spotify and will listen to them.

Regards
Florestan


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