commentary to opus 43
(Figures in Sound) for Strings, op. 43 (1971/72)|
Duration: 10 Minutes
Schott Music ED 6542
Video: Works by Hummel on youtube
Figures in Sound, op. 43, were written as a commission from the
Camerata academica of the Mozarteum, Salzburg and have, since their première,
been performed and recorded by several orchestras.
Preliminary Remarks (Score Schott)
In the Klangfiguren, sounds and playing methods employed in contemporary music, e. g. clusters, many-voiced chordal structures, superimposed sounds, polyrhythms etc. are notated exactly. Klangfigur II, for example, illustrates the transformation of geometrical figures into a musical structure. By virtue of the fact that the technical demands made on the player have been kept deliberately at a minimum in all the parts, the main purpose of the work can be seen to be its use in orchestral training, particularly with amateur orchestras.
The effect of Klangfiguren is dependent essentially on a detailed realisation of the dynamics, timbre and intonation in the individual instrumental groups. It is recommended, therefore, that intensive rehearsals be held separately for those groups which - as can be easily seen from the score - belong together, so that the ear of each player can become attuned to the musical events. If it is at all possible, the overall sound of the writtenout clusters should be homogeneous, without any individual part standing out. In bars 1 - 4 of the first piece, for example, this can be practised very well with violins 1 - 10 and violas 1 and 2. Consequently it is important that the end result of the Klangfiguren, which constitute a mosaic of many individual elements, should be an overall impression of fine, welljudget tonal balance. So that this might be achieved, it is vital that each player trains his ear carefully in the manner outlined above.
The performance of Klangfiguren is entirely within the capabilities of an amateur orchestra, but professional chamber orchestras can also make use of the pieces as profitable "studies" in the acquisition of new musical devices, and as a means of enlarging their repertory.In order to make possible a quicker understanding of the musical and technical demands of the pieces, each part has been notated exactly.
the cycle in three movements, Figures in Sound, op. 43, written
in 1971 as a commission for the Camerata academica of the Mozarteum, Salzburg
and premièred there on the 2nd October of the same year, closely-woven
blocks of sound organised in multiple layers are extracted from the string orchestra
divided into 17 individual parts. Besides passages in several parts in linearly
conceived polyphony, e.g. in the first movement, there arise chromatically saturated
clusters with powerful effects. The expressive content of such bursts of sound
is of secondary importance in relation to the dominating role of the formal and
structural aspects of the whole composition.
Dr. Klaus H. Stahmer
Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, 21st May, 1983
The first movement in particular, densely worked and in parts with dialogue-like linearity, left a strong impression. But the tattered, bizarre gestures of the Figure II and the partly neo-expressionist, partly "in higher spheres" outbursts and layers of sound of the Finale had the power to captivate.
Main-Echo, 19th October, 1971
Figures in Sound 1 and 2 was the name given by Bertold Hummel to his opus 43 for 24 strings, composed in 1971as a commission for the Camerata Academica - it could just as easily be called "Musical Mobile". Movement of sounds is its striking characteristic, technical constructions in fluctuation - for once without electronics - transformed into purely instrumental music. The constant transformation of glistening whirring (figure 1) or pizzicato drops of sound (figure 2) into energetically clashing sonorous blocks, the contrast of logically inevitable development and deliberately rough sequences of unrelated sound conglomerations, of sprinklings of melody and atonally dense translations of abstract-optical shapes into acoustic forms - all of this results in the fascination of this both brief and entertaining work.