Our series for the viola continues with the Potpourri for Viola by Johnann Hummel.
The best recording out there is one made by my sister, but since the formatting of that recording makes it impossible to attach to an email, this one will suffice.
There isn’t much out there on this piece of music. It is almost never programmed by professional orchestras and occurs most often in student recitals. However, despite being rarely performed, it is nonetheless a staple in most violists’ repertoire.
You’ll hear a few bits and pieces of a Mozart opera sprinkled in among the faster passages, as well as a few random Rossini Overtures. They aren’t from any of Mozart or Rossini’s famous works, such as “Don Giovanni” or “The Barber of Seville,” so I wouldn’t expect anyone to be able to pick them out (I certainly wasn’t able to!). However, you can hear very clearly the stylistic imprint of both Mozart and the early-Romantic era opera writers like Rossini. These touches lend a wonderful, carefree sense of lightness to the work. Perhaps it is this lightness, as well as its inexplicable delegation as a student-recital piece, that led to it being called “Hummel’s salon composition.” In other words, this was the piece that Hummel wrote for casual, light-hearted background music in salons and restaurants.