When Johann Nepomuk Hummel in the 1830s made his arrangements of seven piano concertos by Mozart, he must have returned in his mind to a time some 40 years earlier. It was during the years 1886-1887, that Hummel was installed, and by all accounts treated as a member of the family, at the Mozart residence in Vienna. The seven-year old boy, whose playing had impressed the composer, thus had the opportunity to study the master at close quarters, gathering privileged information about his compositional method as well as his performance practice.
Perhaps partly for this reason, Hummel, during his illustrious career as a piano virtuoso, would often be likened to Mozart, and common traits in their respective musical temperaments pointed out, such as the relaxed, gallant and unassuming manner in which they made the music speak to an audience. For this reason, Hummel’s arrangements are valuable not only as enjoyable works in their own right, but also for the insights they bring into how the composer himself, and his contemporaries, may have performed these works. This of course applies especially to those concertos that never were published during Mozart’s lifetime, and where the autographs often only give fairly sketchy directions for many solo passages, including the cadenzas, and for the ornamentation.
Both of the present concertos belong to this category, which makes the fact that Hummel probably attended the 1789 first performance of the D major 'Coronation Concerto', with Mozart as soloist, particularly interesting.
The two previous discs of Hummel’s arrangements enjoyed an enthusiastic reception with the Gramophone calling the performances ‘consistently refreshing … full of unexpected illuminations’ and Klassik Heute describing the recording project as one ‘whose continuation one can only look forward to.’ That the same players, with Fumiko Shiraga at the keys, now are back with the fifth and sixth of Hummel’s transcriptions will please many – both music lovers in general and those interested in the piano literature of this period in particular.