4 CDs for the price of 2
Today, with authenticity a crucial concern in musical performance, the idea of arranging piano concertos by Mozart for chamber forces seems almost bizarre. But in the 1830s, when the publisher Schott commissioned Johann Nepomuk Hummel to produce these versions of seven of Mozart’s most popular concertos for piano, flute, violin and cello, it was a common practice aimed at facilitating performances of orchestral works in domestic settings. And few could have brought such insights to the procedure as Hummel, one of the earliest protagonists on the stage of the virtuoso era, but also regarded by his contemporaries as the last legitimate representative of the ‘classical’ style. As a young boy Hummel had lived and studied in Mozart’s household for two years, which had given him the opportunity to follow the composition of the Concertos in C minor, K491, and C major, K503, at close quarters. His arrangements may be described as the result of a virtuoso’s approach to the works of a revered teacher, with a piano part which combines the orchestral parts, the solo line and Hummel’s own added ornamentations and decorative alterations, whilst the other instruments accompany or reinforce the piano writing. Fumiko Shiraga’s performances were originally released on single discs between 2003 and 2006, to critical acclaim, including a Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’ and a ‘CD des Doppelmonats’ in Piano News: ‘This is how Mozart must sound, exactly like this…’ Gathered here in an attractively priced box set, they now provide a wider audience with the opportunity of catching a glimpse of how Mozart’s music was perceived and handed down during the decades after his death.