Gould Piano Trio

Hummel: Piano Trios, Vol. 1

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Johann Nepomuk Hummel was regarded in his time as one of the great pianist/composers and heir to the Classical tradition of his teachers: Mozart, Salieri, and Haydn. This CD of four of Hummel's piano trios gives a clear presentation of his approachable style and displays his skills as both a composer and virtuoso player. It's easy to see how Hummel's charming music appealed to his contemporaries, many of whom rated him above his friend and colleague Beethoven, whose music they sometimes found less accessible. The openness of Hummel's expression, usually cheerful in tone and pleasantly diatonic, and the ease of his writing for the piano and strings suggest the popular success of his music, though, as is often the case with music that doesn't challenge listeners, it may also seem superficial and facile. The Gould Piano Trio gives these pieces engaging performances that are evenly balanced yet varied in expression, and true to the Classical ideal in chamber music, there is a conversational give and take that the players participate in equally, and little of the block-like ensemble writing that afflicts many later Romantic piano trios. The recording at Champs Hill, West Sussex, UK, captures the open and airy acoustics of a room designed for chamber performances, which is advantageous to the transparency of Hummel's textures and to the Gould's lucid performances.

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