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ClassicsOnline Home » HUMMEL: Mass in E flat major / Te Deum / Quod quod in orbe
Be uplifted - choral music of genius
Hummel's magnificent masses can now be heard for the first time thanks to Chandos and the sadly missed conductor, Richard Hickox who died unexpectedly in Nov.2008. They are at the same level as Haydn's late masses and Beethoven's C major Mass and, interestingly, make a strong case for suggesting Hummel's strongest genre was choral music rather than the piano.
The Kyrie opens with a stately march tread, gathering an underlying gentle orchestral drive, building to a climax, then dying away. The Gloria is packed with drama and thrilling choruses, plus a slow movement at Qui tollis. Hummel never fails to provide inspired orchestral accompaniment throughout. The opening statements of Credo have woodwind only, then open into full orchestra in Hummel’s occasional penchant for 3/4 time. An oboe dominates a symphonic introduction to the tenor’s sorrowful Et incarnatus est. The rest of the Credo is a thrilling ride, soloists fully involved, modulations, trumpets, pounding timpani. The latter is present after the opening cries of the Sanctus, later finishing in a great crescendo. The beautiful Benedictus brings memories of Gluck, beloved of Berlioz. There are glorious fortissimo hosannas at the end. The Agnus Dei opens full voiced and ardent, Dona Nobis Pacem is exultant, stops off, then winds up, soloists first, to a thrilling end.
Hickox uses an edition of the Te Deum from the British Library which is significantly different from the one used in the Naxos recording (edited by Allan Badley), and - in my view - inferior, lacking the seemless flow from beginning to end that makes the work one of the greatest Te Deums in the classical repertoire. But this is a minor quibble, this recording is another piece of the jigsaw that shows Hummel to be Vienna's 5th, after Haydn (Hummel's mentor and predecessor at Esterhazy), Mozart (his teacher), Beethoven (his friend and great rival - they were equally popular at the time, and Schubert (a friend whom he influenced.)
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HUMMEL: Mass in E flat major / Te Deum / Quod quod...