commentary to opus 33

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Duo concertante for Violoncello and Harp op. 33 (1968)

I. Fantasia appassionata

II. Burlesque beginning


First Perfomance: June 27, 1968, München, Prinz Carl-Palais
Klaus Storck / Helga Storck

Duration: 14 Minutes

Publisher: Schott Music ED 20283 / ISMN: M-001-14978-5

I. II.

Video: Works by Hummel on youtube

Formed in two movements - Fantasia appassionata and Burlesque - the work gives both instrumentalists opportunity to demonstrate virtuosity.
At the beginning of the 1st movement a motto is presented by the harp and reappears often in the course of the movement. Metamorphoses on a march-like rhythm are interrupted by solo cadenzas by both players. A reprise-like final melody leads to a close in extreme pp.
The whirring motion of the Burlesque is characterised by variable metre. Rhapsodic passages divide the form into 7 easily identifiable sections.
The work was written in during 1967/68 as a commission for the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste (Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts) in Munich and was performed for the first time at their annual general meeting in the1968 by the Storck - Duo.

Bertold Hummel


Bertold Hummel (on the 15th December, 1985 in Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Radio):

Having been asked to make some comments regarding my opus 33, may I start by pointing to the title "Duo concertante", which indicates that the piece is conceived as a gesture for the virtuoso performer.
A particularity of the piece is the basic tuning of the harp in the series: B C D E-flat F-sharp G A, which remains unchanged during the whole first movement. (Thus avoiding any unwanted re-tuning noises.) All melodic and harmonic shapes in the harp part are taken from this source. The violoncello, of course, exploits the opportunity to fill in the rest of the chromatic scale.
A motto - played by the harp - opens the movement - the arabesques in the violoncello provide contrast. A march-like rhythm is hinted at and undergoes numerous variations. The basic material - extracted from the scale of the harp - is constantly, even in transpositions, present in the cello part. The two written-out cadenzas provide both instrumentalists with the chance to display solo skills. The motto - as at the beginning - leads demonstratively to the final melodic idea, which fades out in extreme pp. In this Fantasia appassionata, one could speak of an extended variation form.
The 2nd movement - Burlesque as title - works with variable metre, i.e. the lengths of the basic note-values remain the same, the number of them varies from bar to bar. From this, fluctuating rhythmical structures result. The procedure is not exactly new, we see it often in Stravinsky. Boris Blacher systematised it, and to him we owe, as far as I know, the term "variable Metrik" ("Variable metre"). Insertions, as if in "speaking freely", subdivide the movement.
Despite the 12-tone outer appearance, tonal fields grow up out of pedal-points. (A procedure that occurs relatively seldom in the 60s in our century - in more recent times somewhat more frequently.)
The work was written in 1967 as a commission for the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste (Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts) in Munich and was performed for the first time at their annual general meeting in the1968 by the Storck - Duo, to whom it is also dedicated.



Badische Zeitung, September, 1972

A very welcome new discovery is the "Duo concertante" by Bertold Hummel from the year 1968, a testimony to the fact that the music of today can indeed open up new fields in the conversation between the two instruments - under the condition that, as in Hummel's case, it concerns itself thoroughly with them. This work also begins with a Fantasia, but "appassionata", full of temperament and bearing a powerful signature, followed by a Burlesque which lives completely from rhythm. Piquant details make the work pleasant for the ear, as e.g. when both instruments pay their respects to harmonics, an effect for which the harp is especially well equipped with its resources of glissandi, trills and tremoli or the inherent arpeggio technique.


Zeitung, Memmingen, 13th July, 1985

The expressive piece, in which cello or harp alternate in taking the leading part, exploits the full potential of each instrument and produces extremely dramatic effects.


Main-Post, 1st June, 1970

The "Duo concertante" by Bertold Hummel, dedicated to the Storck-Duo, is striking in its musical vitality in appassionata character, in the inventive virtuosity which Hummel grants to the instruments, in the rhythmical Fantasy and the undogmatic development of motifs. The Burlesque had to be repeated as an encore: the audience had enjoyed this lively work and was carried away by the captivating play of the Storck-Duo.

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