Notes and Editorial Reviews
Born in Prague in 1737, Josef Myslivecek spent most of his short life in Italy, where for a while he enjoyed success with his many operas, and became known as ‘Il Boemo’ (‘The Bohemian’). It was also in Italy – in Bologna – that he first met Mozart, in 1770. Their paths would cross again and in letters Mozart wrote about him with affection, describing him as full of ‘fire, spirit and life’. Myslivecek’s influence is apparent in Mozart’s early operas, violin concertos, symphonies and keyboard music. His music soon fell out of fashion, however, and it is only recent decades that have seen more interest in works such as the wind octets, violin concertos and symphonies. In comparison, Myslivecek’s output for keyboard has been somewhat neglected, something which the English pianist Clare Hammond seeks to rectify with her latest disc. The keyboard concertos in particular have barely seen the light of day since Myslivecek’s death and the second concerto is recorded for the first time on this album which gathers all of the extant keyboard works. Clare Hammond, whose imaginative recording projects on BIS have received international acclaim, is here supported in the concertos by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by no one less than Nicholas McGegan, whose expertise in 18th-century style is undisputed.
The two compact concertos have a sparky grace that comes across buoyantly in these performances. Schnabel’s old adage about Mozart’s piano sonatas – “too easy for children, and too difficult for artists” – would come to mind for Myslive?ek’s Divertimenti, were it not for the perfectly judged tone that Hammond strikes with them, preserving their seemingly artless charm while finding a striking profundity in their simplicity.
Sprightliness abounds in the concertos and short pieces gathered here, delivered with deliciously unfussy poise and elegance on a modern Steinway, crisply supported by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the conductor Nicholas McGegan.
– Sunday Times (UK)