Notes and Editorial Reviews
Even Berlioz, no great admirer of Hummel, conceded that he wrote some good septets and played the piano well; and Schumann, another doubter, was more influenced than he cared to admit, as Julian Haylock's note to the present disc mentions. The D minor Septet was certainly well known to Clara Schumann, who had it in her repertory before her marriage. It is a piece very much of its time, 1816, showing touches of Beethoven, and a few of Schubert (especially in some of the modulations and in the piano writing in octaves); there is also some of the dashing virtuosity of Weber, who thought it ''one of the composer's most successful works, on which he has lavished great care and feeling''. Part of this care goes into making the work a genuine
septet, rather than a piece for piano and others. In this respect, the recording is not all that successful. The sound is a little crowded, with a thumping emphasis on the bass at times, though for the most part the sparkling piano writing comes through well. Catherine Edwards is excellent, understanding not only the wit and verve of the music, but seeking to keep the piano well within the music in the first movement of Op. 74, where the instrument has a largely colouristic role, and taking the lead skilfully in the fine variations. The players deal well with these and with the vigorous interplay of the finale.
The so-called ''Grand Septuor Militaire'' is one of many such 'military' works which conquered concert halls in Napoleonic times; the difference is that, writing in 1830, Hummel is recollecting the genre and his own conquests in a certain tranquility. The trumpet, which in this performance might have been rather livelier, naturally plays a leading role; but the real quality of the work is to be found in the Adagio, where the trumpeter is silent.
John Warrack, Gramophone [5/1991]
review of original release Hyperion 66396
Works on This Recording
Septet for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Horn, Viola, Cello and Double Bass in D minor, Op. 74 by Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Written: by 1816; Vienna, Austria
Septet for Piano, Strings and Winds in C major, Op. 114 "Militaire" by Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Written: 1829; Weimar, Germany
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