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Lark Reviews, November 2019

With the Beethoven anniversary coming up next year we are bound to get some unusual recordings and this may be something of a precursor. Hummel’s arrangements are particularly striking in both their faithfulness to the originals and yet the sense that they could have been written like this in the first place. The Eroica is particularly impressive given the expectation of orchestral colour and dynamic one has come to expect, yet the limited palette seems to work extremely well. Thoroughly enjoyable and hopefully we might get the rest of the series! © 2019 Lark Reviews

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2019

Though the 250th birthday celebration of Beethoven’s birth is over a year away, the record industry are already flooding the market with every permutation of his music. Here we have the first in a cycle of his symphonies arranged, most probably without the composer’s consent, by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, for flute and piano trio. They served a very useful purpose, as it was the only way many to come to know the great symphonic masterpieces in parts of the world far removed from concert halls. I guess that if they had been originally composed for this configuration of instruments, they would have been gladly taken into the chamber music repertoire. Of course, you have to have the outstanding musicians involved in this project—the New Zealand flautist, Uwe Grodd, and the Gould Piano Trio. Trained as a pianist, Hummel’s version of the Third Symphony does heavily depend on Benjamin Frith, the Gould’s pianist, who carries the main thrust of this arrangement, where it is often written for keyboard with an accompaniment. Tempos throughout have been well chosen, the second movement full of sombre sadness; the duet passages between cello and piano being of particular beauty, while the scherzo and finale are bustling with good humour. The First Symphony arrangement is equally pleasing, and, by comparison, it makes more use of the whole quartet, The Minuet is charming and the Haydnesque finale is mercurial and shows the Gould in very fine form. In the present Beethoven deluge, please don’t overlook this one. © 2019 David's Review Corner

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