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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ignaz Moscheles; Johann Nepomuk Hummel - Cello Sonatas (Jiří Bárta; Hamish Milne)


Composer: Ignaz Moscheles; Johann Nepomuk Hummel
  1. Moscheles - Cello Sonata No. 2 in E major, Op. 121: 1. Allegro espressivo e appassionato
  2. Moscheles - Cello Sonata No. 2 in E major, Op. 121: 2. Scherzo "ballabile". Allegretto quasi allegro
  3. Moscheles - Cello Sonata No. 2 in E major, Op. 121: 3. Ballade "in böhmische Weise". Andantino
  4. Moscheles - Cello Sonata No. 2 in E major, Op. 121: 4. Allegro vivace, ma non troppo
  5. Moscheles - Melodisch-Kontrapunktische studien, Op. 137b: 4. Präludium in E flat major (Das wohltemperierte Klavier II, No. 7, BWV 876)
  6. Moscheles - Melodisch-Kontrapunktische studien, Op. 137b: 8. Präludium in D minor (Das wohltemperierte Klavier II, No. 6, BWV 875)
  7. Moscheles - Melodisch-Kontrapunktische studien, Op. 137b: 9. Präludium in C sharp minor (Das wohltemperierte Klavier I, No. 4, BWV 849)
  8. Hummel - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 104: 1. Allegro amabile e grazioso
  9. Hummel - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 104: 2. Romanze. Un poco adagio e con espressione
  10. Hummel - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 104: 3. Rondo. Allegro vivace un poco

Jiří Bárta, cello
Hamish Milne, piano

Date: 2006
Label: Hyperion



An amiable outing from a virtuoso pair, even if the cellist is given a back seat

Hummel and Moscheles make an apt pair: each was a keyboard virtuoso who wrote prolifically. Yet where Hummel has been well represented on disc lately, Moscheles is far more neglected. That makes the new issue specially valuable. Their careers overlapped, but Moscheles lived for 33 years more after Hummel died, actively composing till the last. The works here appeared some three decades apart – not that the stylistic contrast is at all marked, for both adopted an easily lyrical style celebrating the early 19th rather than the 18th century, with Mendelssohn more of an influence than Mozart.

This is particularly so in Moscheles’s Cello Sonata of 1850-51, with one or two echoes of the Mendelssohn Octet and with a Scherzo marked ballabile, sparkling in the way one expects of Mendelssohn. The younger composer, a close friend, also influenced Moscheles in his devotion to Bach, represented here by the three Melodic-Contrapuntal Studies, involving flowing melodic writing for the cello neatly fitted to Bach’s original keyboard Preludes.

Following tradition, Moscheles gives priority to the piano over the cello in describing the work, not surprising from a pianist-composer, and this recording rather brings that out; the sensitive cellist, Jirí Bárta, is regularly overshadowed. What is more unexpected is how the last two movements echo Czech music, not just in the rhythms and melodic shapes of some of the themes but in the alternation of speeds; that suggests that Moscheles was influenced by the Czech dumka. The Sonata is rounded off with a dashing movement in which Moscheles encourages the pianist to show off in several passages.

Otherwise this is a work designed for intimate music-making, and that is even more clearly so in the Hummel Sonata, which opens with a triple-time Allegro amabile. ‘Amiable’ is an apt description of the piece, not just in that lyrical first movement but the central Romanze which is rather like early Beethoven. Here, too, there are echoes of the music of eastern Europe in the finale, maybe influenced by Hummel’s tours of Russia and Poland.

Though it is a pity that Bárta is not presented as a full equal to Milne (who plays brilliantly), the recording balance is largely to blame. An attractive disc nonetheless.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ****


Ignaz Moscheles (23 May 1794 – 10 March 1870) was a Bohemian composer and piano virtuoso. His career in his early years was based initially in London, and later at Leipzig, where he joined his friend and sometime pupil Felix Mendelssohn as Professor of Piano at the Conservatoire. Among his 142 opus numbers, Moscheles wrote an overture, a ballet, a symphony and eight piano concertos. Moscheles also left several chamber works and a large number of works for piano solo, including sonatas and the études that continued to be studied by advanced students even as Moscheles's music fell into eclipse.


Johann Nepomuk Hummel (14 November 1778 – 17 October 1837) was an Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist. His music reflects the transition from the Classical to the Romantic musical era. He received lessons and instructions from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna and Muzio Clementi in London. His main oeuvre is for the piano, on which instrument he was one of the great virtuosi of his day. Later 19th century pianistic technique was influenced by Hummel, through his instruction of Carl Czerny who later taught Franz Liszt.


Jiří Bárta (born 1964 ) is a Czech cellist, one of the foremost of his generation. He studied in Prague with Josef Chuchro, in Cologne with Boris Pergamenschikow, and in Los Angeles with Eleonore Schoenfeld. Bárta has performed as both chamber musician and concerto soloist with leading artists at major halls and festivals throughout Europe, the Americas, Japan and Australia. He has been featured on national television in most European countries as well as broadcast on many radio stations. Bárta currently plays a cello built by Dietmar Rexhausen in 2012.


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