Josef Myslivecek - Complete Keyboard Works in Gramophone

"she lets this appealing music speak for itself" — Patrick Rucker

Josef Myslivecek (1737-81) was 26 years old when he left his native Prague for Italy, where he studied with Pescetti in Venice and, a mere two years later, had the first of his two dozen or so opere serie produced. Italy would remain the centre of his activity - with three sojourns north, to Prague, Vienne and Munich - until his death of tertiary syphilis at the age of 44. In addition to his operas, there are some 45 symphonies, eight violin concertos, oratorios and a substantial amount of chamber music. Myslivecek apparently composed relatively little for the keyboard and virtually all of it that survives is presented in this attractive new recording by Clare Hammond.'

The two concertos are thought to date from Myslivecek's Munich sojourn in 1776-78 and, despite the considerable richness of the orchestral writing, the solo parts are considerably less demanding technically than Mozart or Clementi and less audacious than Haydn. Modest though their means may be, their charm is abundant, and both concertos are clearly the works of a supremely competent and gift musician, if not of a keyboard virtuoso. To Hammond's credit, she lets this appealing music speak for itself, never yiedling to the temptation of burdening it with undue portent or extraneous affect. Nicholas McGegan and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (which will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its founding next year) are her supportive collaborators. The exquisitely poignant Larghetto of the F Major Concerto, with its delicately colours accompaniment of muted violins and pizzicato lower strings, is alone worth the price of the disc.

The two solo sets are clearly intended for the amateur market. The longest of the Six Easy Divertimenti (1777) is just over three minutes. The more elaborate Six Easy Lessons (1780) are a set of two-movement sonatas which, with but one exception, join a lively opening movement with a more relaxed finale. Here too Hammond demonstrates that simplicity of utterance need not preclude either elegance or eloquence.