Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Viola Sonata in E Flat Major, Op.5 No.3
Mozart did not write one, neither did Haydn, Beethoven or Schubert. It was left to Johann Nepomuk Hummel to write what is the best viola sonata from the late classical and early romantic period.
"This impressive work is written in a lyric and polished style that shows Mozartian elements logically infused with clear Romantic characteristics. Significantly, it makes equal demands on both players."--Professor Maurice Hinson from The Piano in Chamber Ensemble.
Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) was not only considered one of the most important composers of his time but was also widely regarded as the greatest piano virtuoso of his era. We owe the transmission of Mozart's pianistic style and technique to him. From early on, Hummel was recognized as a prodigy and not just on the piano. Brought to Vienna from his native Pressburg (today Bratislava) at the age of 4, Hummel auditioned to study with Mozart. While Mozart accepted the occasional day student for the odd hour or half hour lesson, he refused to take on full-time students because he was too busy. In Hummel's case, immediately recognizing the extraordinary talent, Mozart not only made an exception, but insisted that Hummel live with him so that he could supervise every aspect of the his musical education. In fact, Hummel was the only full-time student Mozart ever had. The general consensus at the time was that Hummel was the greatest prodigy ever, save Mozart. His compositions were widely played during his lifetime and throughout the 19th century. In the 20th century, the general opinion has been that Hummel's works reached the highest possible level accessible to someone who was not an ultimate genius. Hence of his generation, only Beethoven's works could be ranked higher. Yet despite this, his marvelous music disappeared throughout much of the 20th century. And though recently it has begun to be recorded with some frequency, the same unfortunately cannot be said for its appearance on the concert stage.
Stylistically, Hummel's music generally represents the end of the Viennese Classical Era and the bridge period between it and Romanticism. His wonderful viola sonata dates from from the late 1790's. The opening Allegro moderato begins with a brief flourish before the piano introduces the charming main theme, which is quickly taken up by the viola. Already we can see that even at an early age, Hummel had clearly assimilated the elements of early Romanticism. The lovely and delicate second theme bears many of the same characteristics of the first and is closely related to it. The attractive main theme of the slow movement, Adagio e cantabile, harks back to Mozart, especially in its highly effective use of ornamentation. The sparkling, Rondo con moto, begins with an exciting and compelling melody. Light and airy, the music races along effortlessly.
Our all new edition of this long out of print masterwork, edited by senior editor Skyler Silvertrust, is the first many decades. Every violist ought to have this outstanding work in their repertoire.