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Mozart/Hummel: Piano Concertos Vol 4 / Shiraga, Wiese, Et Al

Release Date: 01/30/2007 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1567   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Fumiko ShiragaHenrik WiesePeter ClementeTibor Benyi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART (arr. Hummel) Piano Concerto No. 18. Symphony No. 40 Fumiko Shiraga (pn); Henrik Wiese (fl); Peter Clemente (vn); Tibor Bényi (vc) BIS 1567 (61:56)

If you’ve never had any desire to hear one of Mozart’s piano concertos and one of his symphonies reduced—by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, no less—to a piano, flute, violin, and cello arrangement, you can skip this review and the disc. Hummel, we are told, was commissioned to score seven of Mozart’s piano concertos for Read more chamber ensemble by English publishers from the Chapel Master to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. With this concerto—No. 18 in B? Major, K 456—Hummel completed the set in 1836. Even earlier, from the beginning of the 1820s, similar arrangements of Mozart’s last six symphonies were widely published. The incentive for this sort of thing is easy to understand. There was a voracious market for such works to be arranged for modest forces so that they could be played at home by amateur musicians. With the advent of radio and recording, we lost an entire culture of home music-making among family members and friends.

Ordinarily, I’m not receptive to this sort of thing, but I have to admit to being quite pleasantly surprised at how effective and truly delightful these arrangements are. The symphony works better, I think, than the concerto, and for a very simple reason. In the concerto, the piano must play a dual role as both soloist and member of the ensemble. As a result, the piano is heard from the very beginning and throughout all the “orchestra”-only sections during which it would normally remain silent. Thus, the concerto contrast principle between soloist and ripieno is compromised. The symphony, however, has no such distinguishing difficulties, and, amazingly, it almost sounds as if this is the way Mozart wrote it.

Hummel, of course, gets credit for being no ordinary hack arranger. But the four musicians playing these pieces on modern instruments deserve at least equal billing. They are phenomenally good. And BIS’s sound (do the initials stand for “Best in Show?”) is among the best in the business. No one could be more surprised than I, but I accord this release a very strong recommendation.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 18 in B flat major, K 456 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Fumiko Shiraga (Piano), Henrik Wiese (Flute), Peter Clemente (Violin),
Tibor Benyi (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 32 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Johann Nepomuk Hummel. 
Symphony no 40 in G minor, K 550 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Fumiko Shiraga (Piano), Henrik Wiese (Flute), Peter Clemente (Violin),
Tibor Benyi (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 28 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Johann Nepomuk Hummel. 

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