Movement 1: Allegro moderato, ma risoluto
Movement 2: Un scherzo all' antico: Allegro, ma non troppo
Movement 3: Larghetto a capriccio
Movement 4: Allegro vivace
Hummel’s longest piano sonata (836 measures against the 601 of Op 81), and the only one to have four movements, is a retreat from Romantic fantasy and innovation. It is a conscious return to his neo-Classic style, albeit in a far more mature guise, with tighter motivic writing and a conservative harmonic language. The temperature throughout is cooler, its most memorable material found in its idiosyncratic figurations rather than its themes. After the episodic and comparatively mundane first movement (Allegro moderato, ma risoluto), the work’s happiest feature is its second movement. It is entitled Un scherzo all’antico: Allegro, ma non troppo, the first section emphasising the work’s allegiance to an earlier era, its second (marked, curiously, Alternativ) an intriguing passage with its pre-echoes of Schumann and late Beethoven. The third movement (Larghetto a capriccio, to be played cantabile ed espressivo) is in A major and sets out as a Field-like nocturne before Hummel the melodist gives way to Hummel the improviser: its last pages have the left hand’s simple triplets set against the right hand’s blocks of delicate demisemiquavers. The finale (Allegro vivace) is arguably the most tightly knit, closely worked of the four movements, its individual sections (with an emphasis on contrapuntal writing) again proving more ear-catching than its thematic content.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2003