commentary to opus 75d (1978)

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Adagietto for string sextet, op. 75d (1978)

First Performance : October 30, 1999, Güthersloh, Stadttheater
Georg Döring / Wiebke Corßen / Beate Corßen / Gregor van den Boom / Bertold Hummel / Michael Corßen

Duration: 6 Minutes

Publisher: Schott Music ED 20289 / ISMN: M-001-14994-5


Foreword (Schott Music)

Bertold Hummel worked on his Adagietto for many years. Originally conceived as an Elegy for Strings in 1965, it was transformed into an Adagietto for String Sextet in 1978 and published for the first time in 1993. Hummel undertook a further arrangement of the composition in 1999 and participated with musical friends in its first performance. In one of the scores, the title is supplemented by the term "sacrale", an indication of the religious background of this composition.

"In a time of increasing secularisation, the creative and no doubt also the reproducing artist have the task of pointing out to their contemporaries the transcendental, the inexplicable and the unprovable. The language of music - most effective perhaps in reaching across world frontiers - has an especially important role in this. Representations of suffering and horror alone cannot be the inherent constituent of a work of art. A reference to comfort and hope is indispensable. Furthermore, life, nature, and, for the believer, knowledge of God give cause enough for praise and thanks."

This is how my father once formulated his artistic conception. A favourite adopted term of his, "musikalische Klangrede" [musical speech), appears to me to be particularly well implemented in the Adagietto.

Martin Hummel Translation: Lindsay Chalmers-Gerbracht


In his Adagietto for string sextet, the variety results from the playing in the two of each arrangement of violins, violas and cellos.
A unisono of the first violin together with both cellos begins in p, the melody rises in 12 bars to a ff chord; immediately, it begins from the bottom again, but now a tone higher, thus intensifying the effect. In close intervals, the instruments join in continuing the theme, increasing their volume to powerful chords or breathing out quietly in pp. The motion of the parts is generally homophonic, tension is created through the immediately adjacent contrasts of pp and ff. Dynamics of this kind prevail during the whole course of the piece and take the listeners' breath away.
There is a counterweight to the ascending motion with which the piece begins: a rhythmically lively second motif appears, already introduced at the beginning as a descending line in the second violin. In the course of the Adagietto, it grows in independence, until the piece comes to rest in ppp on a quietly shining E major.

Hans Jürgen Kuhlmann (in the programme booklet of the ensembles "Il Cappricio", July 2003)


Winnender Zeitung, 4th May, 2004

A 20th century work carried us away into a completely different world - the "Adagietto for String Quartet" by Bertold Hummel (1925 - 2002). Tone clusters and clouds of sound, expressive and full of dissonances, savoured by the instrumentalists to the last note. Then again sounds like an uproar or an unaltered repetition of a melody which seemed to come from another sphere. Pictorial atmosphere in the purest form. Seconds went by before the tension in the audience was released with the first applause.

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