commentary to opus 15

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Divertimento Capriccioso for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra op. 15 (1958)

I. Concerto

II. Serenata beginning

III. Capriccio


Orchestra: - - Perc., Hrp., Strings

Duration: 16 Minutes

Publisher: N. Simrock Hamburg-London (Boosey & Hawkes)

Video: Works by Hummel on youtube

The harpsichordist Fritz Neumeyer, in whose baroque ensemble I played continuo (violoncello) for many years, suggested to me the composition of the Divertimento Capriccioso for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra.
He had an idea about an entertaining piece in quasi baroque manner - but dressed in a modern way. So I searched for some "basic material" and found it in a yet (1950) unpublished opera "Flaminio" by G.B. Pergolesi. The final result was a Concertino for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra. Some striking sequences from Pergolesi were taken as opening material for the 1st movement, Concerto, which presents itself as free-and-easy and optimistic with slight touches of harmonically foreign material.
In the 2nd movement, Serenata, a melody in 6/8 is in the foreground; a slightly more animated ostinato figure sets the mood for the middle section, the ternary form is completed by the return of the 6/8 melody with some variations.
Rhythmical overlappings stimulate the 3rd movement, Capriccio, and lend it a somewhat dance-like character. Besides the thematic material, the references to baroque figuration play a special role.
On the whole, a sparing orchestration was necessary in response to the limited power of the instrument.



Gie▀ener Allgemeine Zeitung, 11th February, 1998

The sound of the opening piece in three movements reminded one, with its blending of old themes and figurations with modern material, of Benjamin Britten. Using interesting instrumentation - unusual effects with the harp - Hummel makes sure that the harpsichord does not disappear into the background as a continuo instrument.


Main-Post, 8th February, 1971

The amusing and capricious work, gaining its particular charm through the occasional clashes of style and tone colour within the combined sounds of harpsichord and cleverly arrayed orchestra, was shaped with tangible joy and great sensitivity.

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