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Mathilde on CD

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) was one of the greatest pianist composers of the early 19th century. Taught by Salieri, Albrechstberger and Mozart, he was a close friend of Beethoven from the late 1790s until the latter's death in 1827. Hummel replaced the elderly Haydn as Kappelmeister at Eisenstadt with Haydn's approval. His influence upon Schubert, Chopin and Liszt was profound, and his A minor and B minor piano concertos (1815/19) are fine examples of the early romantic concerto rivalled only by the masterworks of Beethoven. Today however, it is probably his early (1803) trumpet concerto that he is best known for. A pity, as he was a truly well rounded, sophisticated musician, who, at his best produced many fine works that are today beginning to re-appear in the repertoire. He composed 15 operas, and none have been recorded until this release of Mathilde von Guise. Dating from 1810, and revised in 1821. Premiered in 1811 in Vienna the opera was met with great acclaim, and in 1821 Hummel revised it for a new production, providing a 'new' overture (the earlier version's overture is also included) which he had extracted from his ballet Sappho of Mitilene of 1812!. The work was performed in Weimar, Berlin and Riga, then fell from the repertoire until the performances that led to this recording in Laon, France in 2008. Hummel's score is beautiful, and is a supreme example of post Mozartian grace, allied to the modern style of Cherubini, Weber and a hint of early Rossini. It is also possible to detect how a work such as Mathilde von Guise would have appealed to Mercadante and the young Verdi. The writing for the singers is demanding, and with the composer's gift for melody and orchestration this is an important operatic recording premier.