158:19 (3 CDs in a box)
Brilliant Classics 94378
These six three-movement sonatas, along with an extra Finale movement in number 6 and a bonus Fantasino in C, are played by Constantino Mastroprimiano on a fortepiano by Urbano Petroselli after a 1790 Anton Walter original, with the later sonatas being played on an 1838 Erard. Ranging from the composer’s opus 2 a set of sonatas composed when he was just 14 to his opus 106 from around 1824, when he was 46, these pieces chart the development of his compositional skills up to his last decade. They also chart the dramatic changes which occurred in musical taste during this period – his opus 106, a ‘Grande Sonate Brillante’, is a work of fully fledged romanticism while his opus 2 had elements of the galante style. His pleasant opus 124 Fantasino on a theme from Mozart’s Die Hochzeit des Figaro and the dedication of his opus 13 to Haydn remind us of the musical circles that he moved in, and while he seems to me never quite to achieve the profundity of many of his greater contemporaries, you can hear elements particularly of Beethoven and perhaps even a hint of Chopin and Schumann in his piano textures. Constantino Mastroprimiano has a fine mastery of these works, although – whether due to microphone placement or the instrument itself – I feel that the Erard sounds a little fluffy, particularly in the opus 106 which could do with an altogether brighter instrument. Hummel himself owned and played an Erard, so perhaps he would disagree!
D. James Ross
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