A Minefield Of Technical Treachery

As I may (or should) have mentioned once (or a million times) before, I'm a huge fan of Professor Robert Greenberg and his "Great Courses" lectures on classical music from The Learning Company. The man's a national treasure, as far as I'm concerned.

Particularly inspired by my current "Walking Home From Work" listening -- his fun, highly instructive series on the concerto -- I'm mulling over a "Desert Island Concerti" post, to be completed and shared at some later date. (Yes, be afraid; very afraid.)

In the meantime, I'm listening to the finale of Johann Nepomuk Hummel's 3rd Piano Concerto (in B Minor), about which Greenberg says that while it is "mostly 'finger' music, consisting of scales and arpeggios in the style of Classical pianism, rather than 'arm' music that features huge leaps and thundering sonorities, it is a minefield of technical treachery."

A "minefield of technical treachery," you say? Sounds awesome! (Literally. Heh.)

Fun, no? Even if taken a bit out of musical context?

The whole thing is great and technically breathtaking/dangerous/treacherous throughout. As is his 2nd Concerto (in A Minor) -- both worthy of being recognized and appreciated alongside his famous Trumpet Concerto (in E-Flat Major). Yet their relative obscurity (especially in comparison) cannot be denied, no matter how inexplicable. Or should I say "seemingly inexplicable, except that Dr. Greenberg has a perfectly good explanation?" Because he does.

"The problem with the Piano Concerto in B Minor is not the music but the fact that no one is willing to perform it, especially on a modern piano. It is just too hard to play, and the rewards offered by such a piece are not perceived as being equal to the time required to learn it and the risks involved in its performance."

Luckily, there are still a few brave souls.

Attribution(s): "Sketch of Johann Nepomuk Hummel After Pierre-Roch Vigneron" is available from Gallica Digital Library and is in the public domain via Wikipedia.