commentary to opus 66
Sinfonia piccola for 8 Double Basses, op. 66 (1978)
I. Prologue beginning
II. Burlesque beginning
III. Andante sostenuto
Performance: August 3, 1978, Isle of Man (Great Britain), Erin Arts Center
Première: November 2, 2008, Paris, Conservatoire de Paris
Première: June 12, 2009, Penn State, University
Duration: 23 MinutesPublisher: Schott Music KBB 12 / ISMN 979-0-001-15698-1
(Schott Music KBB
Hummel composed the Sinfonia piccola in 1978 for the first international
competition and seminar for the double bass on the Isle of Man (British Isles)
where the work was premiered by double bass class students of Günter Klaus
from the Hochschule für Musik Würzburg under the direction of Claus
Hummel wrote the following on his composition: “The attempt is made to utilise
the instruments to produce symphonic gestures and developments. During the four
movements, a variety of playing techniques are displayed and allocated to contrasting
formal developments. The wide range of tonal colours includes harmonics, glissandi,
pizzicato, tapping on the fingerboard and body of the instrument, solo passages
and ensemble playing. The palette of the musical content ranges from a lyrical
style to jazz and the fundamental character of this symphony en miniature is determined
by both pathos and scurrility”.
had access to the original material for the first performance in the preparation
of the current edition. Discrepancies between the score and the parts have been
eliminated and several practical performing details added. The technical performing
instructions have been provided in two languages.
work is conceived as a double quartet and the following seating position has proved
to have been successful in performance: the ensemble should form as wide an open
semi-circle as possible: Cb 4, Cb 3, Cb 2, Cb 1, Cb 5, Cb 6, Cb 7, Cb 8. The double
basses 4 and 8 require the low C string. The ensemble can make an independent
decision as to whether a conductor is necessary for performance; the work can
be performed either with or without a conductor.
Hummel has provided a foundation for double bass ensemble literature with his
Sinfonia piccola. This edition should inspire double bass players
at music colleges and in orchestras to come together and perform on stage in ensemble.
The presentation and performance of the current edition will take place in November 2008 at the International Double Bass Festival BASS´ 2008 at the Conservatoire National Superior in Paris and at the 2nd HARMOS Festival at the College of Music and the Performing Arts ESMAE/IPP in Porto. The American premiere will follow in June 2009 at the World Congress of the International Society of Bassists ISB at the Penn State University in Pennsylvania, USA.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20th January, 1979
In the final piece of the evening, the "Sinfonia Piccola" by Bertold Hummel, the Würzburger Kontrabaß-Ensemble could once again pull out all the stops: harmonics, glissandi, plucking, knocking on the finger-board and on the instrument body, solo play and ensemble. During the piece, which used a palette stretching from lyrical to jazzy, one occasionally forgot that only double basses were playing, believing rather that one was sitting in front of a full, well-sounding string orchestra.
The Strad Magazine, August 2017
Its worth sticking with Bertold Hummels thunderous Sinfonia piccola for moments as haunting as the final bars of the Andante sostenuto, where harmonics chime like distant church bells.