Mozart's contemporary Josef Mysliček (1737-1781), whom the Italians called "il boemo" or "Venatorino" (The Little Hunter, as his name translates), is better known, if at all, for his operas. Numbering more than 28, they were printed all over Europe, and in Italy Mysliveček was the highest paid opera composer of his time. More recently his orchestral works have become better known - his piano works are almost unknown. They are all presented on this CD. Clare Hammond, who plays all the pieces, has written very knowledgeably about this in the booklet.
The two piano concertos are beautiful and finely crafted. The Larghetto of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major surprises with its enchanting velvety sound, which is evoked by the violin mutes and pizzicati of the remaining strings, and by its stylistic proximity to Mozart. Now that's the crux of it: Mysliveček's music is always compared to Mozart's and always draws the short straw.
The Six Easy Divertimenti are light, and compositionally quite insignificant. The two-movement Six Easy Exercises are more charming and full of character.
In order for this piano music to work, it must - as Mozart knew - be played "with plenty of expression, taste and fire": And that is exactly what Clare Hammond does. She works with fire, wit and expressive eloquence and thus wins this piano music much effective Brio. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan also performs with fantasy and supple tension.
This is music for a spring matinee, charming and melodious, sparkling and invigorating. And that is no mean feat.
Rainer W. Janke