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Hummel at the Opera ()

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This fine Naxos release fills a gap between the pure virtuoso tradition of operatic paraphrases and potpourris on one hand, and the more ambitious treatments of preexisting material by Franz Liszt on the other. Although Naxos doesn't claim them as world recording premieres, these pieces by Johann Nepomuk Hummel have surely seen precious few performances since they fell out of fashion in the middle of the 19th century. Hummel was a contemporary and sometimes a rival of Beethoven, and several of these pieces contain something of the way Beethoven had of taking comic material seriously. Consider the opening set of Variations on "Vivat Bacchus" from Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Op. 34/3, where Mozart's comic treatment of the Turkish potentate exposed for the first time to alcohol gives birth to the very Beethovenian variation 9 (track 4). The Variations on a Theme from Gluck's Armide, Op. 57, are similarly substantial, with a chromatic slow movement giving way to a contrapuntal finale. The Grand... Hide synopsis

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