commentary to opus 62a1
Adagio for Strings in memoriam Benjamin Britten, op.62a (1976)
performance - Version for String Trio: December 19, 1976, Karlstadt, Zur Hl.
performance - Version for String Orchestra: August 6, 1977, Steingaden, Wieskirche
Duration: 6 Minutes
Publisher: Schott Music ED 20280 / ISMN: M-001-14972-3
The Adagio for Strings in memoriam Benjamin Britten, op.62a, was composed immediately on receiving news of the death of the great English composer and was written down between 8:00 and 9:30 on the evening of the 4th December, 1976. It is a composition for three polyphonal parts and can be performed by soloists or ensemble. A gesture from Britten's "Simple Symphony" closes the brief, expressive piece.
I met B. Britten at various music festivals. He was a personality and colleague of wonderfully fine feelings. In him I met a figure of importance not only for his operas of essential significance for our century and for his influential works of absolute music, but also for his work as a conductor, chamber musician and accompanist of song.
Amongst his music, I found an Adagio for Strings in three parts on the death of Benjamin Britten. It takes its place in the tradition of the Funeral Music by Lutoslavsky for Bartok and a series of other pieces of great beauty. It is an Adagio with many long notes, with many plaintive seconds and held chords which are carried away in the wind, a work of memories and sadness. I found it very powerful.
Wilfried Hiller (in the programme booklet of the Munich Chamber Orchestra: Abonnement-Konzerte 2002/2003)
the Adagio, op 62a, Hummels pays homage to Benjamin Britten, who
himself had had learnt much from Henry Purcell, the Orpheus Britannicus of the
Elizabethan period - thus Hummel takes the path of a great tradition which had
always retained a number of special features in comparison with the continental
Hans Jürgen Kuhlmann (in the programme booklet of the ensemble "Il Cappricio", Juli 2003)
Westdeutsche Zeitung, Düsseldorf, 19th November, 1994
An affecting work in one movement, making use, on a foundation of tonal, emphatically diatonic harmonic practice, of a thoroughly modern musical language.