Saturday, February 7th: The next piece on my list was Carl Czerny’s (1791-1857), Fantasia concertante for Flute, Cello and Piano, Op. 256. Czerny was an Austrian composer, pianist and teacher who wrote over a thousand works, many of which are still widely used today. At ten years of age, Czerny performed for Beethoven and was later asked to premiere Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Fantasia concertante was written in 1830 and is a great example of early nineteenth-century Viennese musical fashion. The thematic material was inspired by operatic tradition and is followed by a brilliant set of variations. I found two of the variations to be a challenge to learn, but I definitely think this piece will be recital worthy!
Sunday, February 8th: Austrian composer and piano virtuoso, Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) began taking music lessons from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the age of eight and also lived with the composer free of charge for two years. A European tour later lead to a residency and further training with Muzio Clementi in London. Hummel befriended Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert and eventually became Haydn’s replacement as Kapellmeister for Prince Esterhazy in Eisenstadt, Austria. Having spent three summers in Eisenstadt for the Classical Music Festival as part of the Hayden Festspiele, I can say that Hummel doesn’t receive the same attention that is paid to Papa Haydn. Perhaps he is not celebrated due to the fact that he was dismissed by the Prince for neglecting his duties.
Hummel wrote Trio, Op. 78 for flute, cello and piano as an Introduction & Variations on Minka’s Theme & Rondo in 1818. This beautiful work features a great main theme and seven variations. In her program notes, Laurel Zucker writes, “Hummel’s trio for flute, cello and piano is a delightful work, full of wonderful melodies and beautiful passages for all three instruments. A slow cantabile introduction leads to the presentation of a bouncy folk tune that becomes the source of a series of seven successive variations. The variations alternate between major and minor tonalities. Hummel the composer does not let the listener regret that he was one of the leading piano virtuosos of the day. The second variation is a virtual piano solo, and the third, fifth and last variations unleash pyrotechnic displays. In the sixth variation, the piano tremolo chords under the cello and flute melodies, evoking the sound of a dulcimer.”