Hummel: Mass in D minor; Salve regina

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LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Hummel – Mass in D minor
WORKS: Mass in D minor; Salve regina
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), Rachel Nicholls(soprano), Pamela Helen Stephen(mezzo-soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor),Stephen Varcoe (baritone); CollegiumMusicum 90/Richard Hickox
A pupil of Mozart’s and variously


a friend and rival of Beethoven’s,

Johann Nepomuk Hummel was an

admired composer in his day, even

if history has consigned him to the

position of an interesting secondranker.

It was through Haydn’s

patronage that he obtained work

at the Esterházy court that saw

him adding to Haydn’s tradition

of composing a mass annually for

the nameday of Princess Marie

Ermengild Esterházy, of which this

is an example. The trouble is that

while Haydn produced a sequence

of masterpieces for the occasion,

and Beethoven (guest composer in

1807) his Mass in C, Hummel here

offers something skilled, graceful

and fluently crafted but rather

conventional. His fugues tend to

descend into note spinning.

Equally, the Salve Regina dating

from 1809 (in his notes David Wyn

Jones speculates that it may have

been composed as a memorial to

Haydn, who died that year) is an

amiable continuation of the Viennese

Classical tradition rather than a

renewal of it. But Susan Gritton sings

it with gusto, while she and the other

soloists form a well-blended quartet in

the Mass, whose performance under

Hickox is confident and shapely,

as well as delivered in warm, lucid


sound. George Hall