commentary to opus 52b

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Sonatina No. 2 for Viola and Piano, op. 52b (1973)

I. Allegro maestoso

II. Andante cantabile

III. Finale-Toccata


Dedication: for Florian

Duration: 6 Minutes

Publisher: N. Simrock Hamburg-London (Boosey & Hawkes) EE 2953-1 / ISMN: 979-0-2211-0855-5
: Viola-Part, I. Movement, Bar  71, right: A-D instead of  G-C

Conventus Musicus CM 106

Video: Works by Hummel on youtube


It is no surprise to discover that composer Bertold Hummel trained as a cellist as well as a composer. He writes with an intimate knowledge of strings, and seems to favor the lower sound of viola and cello. His special talent is for composing pieces which are full of variety and vitality, but technically easy enough for capable students. These pieces will delight teachers and students who are looking for accessible contemporary music.
Hummel is at his best in pieces such as the Sonatina No. 1, op. 35, originally written in 1969 for violin and piano, and also available in arrangements for viola and piano, and cello and piano. The strong rhythms and hold harmonies of the first movement contrast with the second movement, an elegy played con sordino. The lively last movement alternates an alla breve time signature with 3/4 time. The piano part supplies a good deal of musical interest, and the piece is always musically gratifying.
The Sonatina No. 2 for cello and piano is another piece in Hummel's varied, economical style. Like the Sonatina No. 1, this piece is made up of three contrasting movements, with a slow middle movement. The entire cello part can be played in the first position. However, the piano part, although well-balanced with the cello part, is far from easy, and the effect is somewhat reminiscent of the Three Easy Pieces by Hindemith. The Little Suite, for cello and piano, and the short but effective Arioso for cello and piano, from 1986, round out Hummel's significant contribution to the literature for cello and piano.
Although many of Hummel's pieces for solo stringed instrument and piano are clearly intended for students, I would
not hesitate to place them on a recital program. Their beauty and excitement could not fail to please an audience.
(D.M. B.)

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