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Hummel And The Fortepiano

We’re headed into the 19th century with Hummel piano concertos, recorded for the first time on period instruments by Solamente Naturali.

J. N. Hummel by Möller, ca. 1814.

Johann Nepomuk Hummel

A Brilliant Classics release of Hummel piano concertos has been recorded for the first time on period instruments by Solamente Naturali. The solo fortepianist is Alessandro Commellato, who plays two different historical instruments: a Viennese Böhm fortepiano from 1825, along with another one built in Paris by Ignace Pleyel in Paris in 1837.

Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin

Hummel was born in what is now Slovakia in 1778—twenty-two years after Mozart in Salzburg. And like Mozart, Hummel was a child prodigy. In fact, Hummel attracted so much attention with his talent that Mozart took notice. He offered to give the young Hummel lessons, and even took him into his home for several years.

While living with the Mozart’s, Hummel probably got to meet all sorts of famous musicians—on occasion Haydn and Dittersdorf and Vanhal would come to the house to play chamber music. Another perk of living with the composer was that Hummel was likely first in line to try out Mozart’s newest piano concertos. Hummel even wrote cadenzas for some of them. Later, Hummel would study with Haydn, and he also developed close ties with Beethoven. Eventually, Hummel became a mentor himself to Chopin, a pianist 32 years his junior.

Piano Concertos

The opus 85 piano concerto on this disc is similar to Beethoven’s style, while the opus 73 Concertino in G sounds more like Mozart. The Concertino is one of Hummel’s earlier works, and actually, is his own re-working of a mandolin concerto he wrote earlier in 1799. The other work included on this disc is Hummel’s F major Introduction and Rondo Brilliant, op. 127.

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Janelle Davis

Janelle Davis is a violinist and performer with period instrument ensembles throughout the United States. She is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University, Bloomington where she specializes in early music.

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