Hummel: Piano Trio No. 1 in E flat; Piano Trio No. 5 in E; Piano Trio No. 7 in E flat

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LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Piano Trio No. 1 in E flat; Piano Trio No. 5 in E; Piano Trio No. 7 in E flat
PERFORMER: Borodin Trio
Like Mozart and Beethoven, Johann Nepomuk Hummel was a remarkably precocious musical talent. A celebrated pianist, he toured much of Europe by his mid-teens and later published an influential piano method. A pupil and lodger of Mozart, he was also taught by Haydn, succeeding the latter as Konzertmeister to Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. Hummel was also renowned as a composer, achieving more immediate success than Beethoven. Of the three trios presented here, the first in E flat is the most captivating. It also elicits some vigorously characterised phrasing from the Borodin Trio, particularly the cellist, Laszlo Varga. Unfortunately, characterisation is at a premium elsewhere on the disc. While these are not poor performances, they are only rarely better than serviceable. This cannot be blamed on the quality of the music. It is necessary to do a lot more than simply play the notes in order to provide us with any inkling of what enraptured audiences in Hummel’s day. That said, if the Borodin Trio disappoints during the inspired moments, it does battle valiantly in Hummel’s more banal passages. Christopher Dingle