Johann Nepomuk Hummel

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 20

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Hummel was appointed concertmaster at the Eisenstadt Court of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy in 1804, a post that was, in effect, tantamount to Kapellmeister, owing to the declining Haydn's inability to fulfill his duties. Despite the taxing demands of the position, Hummel, who officially became Kapellmeister in 1809, was inspired to write much distinctive music during these years, including many masses, operas, chamber works, sonatas, and other piano compositions. The Piano Sonata No. 3 reflects his growing sense of confidence and effectively mines his ever-reliable thematic creativity. The first of the sonata's three movements is marked Allegro moderato - Adagio - Allegro agitato. It opens with a strikingly dark theme, barrenly scored, which quickly turns lively and somewhat anxious. The second subject and subsequent thematic material are masterfully wrought, as is Hummel's imaginative, often intense development of it. The reprise is especially compelling in its darker, agitated manner and brilliant close. The middle panel, marked Adagio maestoso, has, as its maestoso tag suggests, a majestic character both in its serene, stately main theme, and in its gorgeous keyboard writing. The finale (Presto - Ancor piu presto), at about five minutes, is the shortest movement, but, as one might surmise from its Presto marking, it is full of bustling energy. While it lacks the thematic appeal of the previous movements, its colors and rhythmic drive offer ample rewards for the listener.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro moderato
    2. Adagio maestoso
    3. Presto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2011 Centaur Records CRC3127
    2011 Dynamic DM 8025
    2010 Centaur Records 3080
    2009 Chandos 765
    2007 Dynamic 554
    2005 Oehms Classics 360
    2000 Newport Classic 60161
    1999 Dynamic 2023
    1998 Naxos 553296
    1996 Koch Discover International 920237
    1993 Arabesque 6566
    Newport Classic 60100