Musical arrangement was central throughout the career of Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837), whose output includes about fifty transcriptions of pieces in a variety of musical genres, from opera overtures to symphonies and chamber music. Of particular importance are his adaptations of seven of Mozart’s piano concertos (K365, 456, 466, 482, 491, 503 and 537) for piano quartet (flute, violin, cello, fortepiano), not only for their historical significance in terms of Mozart reception, but for the invaluable information they provide about the performance practice of the time. Though partly looking to the contemporary aesthetic values of the piano, Hummel aimed to remain faithful to original classical principles, structure and musical language. His choice of instruments allowed him to preserve a satisfactory balance between the basso continuo, shared by the cello and piano, and the melody, shared by the piano and violin; the role of the flute was mainly to represent the typical tone of the woodwinds. Most notable with regard to performance practice are Hummel’s efforts to complete Mozart’s text in line with standard 18th-century convention, in passages where the original notation is sparse, or at least not fully comprehensive. His realizations, for example, shed light on such problematic questions as improvised embellishment and the treatment of Eingänge (lead-ins).
Hummel’s arrangement of the Piano Concerto in B flat major K456 was the last in the series to appear (the seventh to be precise), after which this publishing project came to a halt — it was not, however, the last concerto that he arranged, since the manuscript sources show that his work on it was already complete by January 1830. Even though Mozart had provided this concerto with a complete set of cadenzas, those composed independently by Hummel, and also his added lead-ins (Eingänge), seem at least to be inspired by the models provided by his teacher, providing important evidence for the performance practice related to this repertory.
The publication of this volume is supported by
Forschungsschwerpunkt Interpretation of the Hochschule der Künste Bern.