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NorviK

Wind Music

Quartet for Clarinet & String Trio

Johann Nepomuk Hummel

edited by Alan Hacker

Clarinet, Violin, Viola, ‘Cello

 Click on the quaver for exerpts of each movement

or

for a complete performance of each movement

    movement 1

    movement 2

    movement 3

    movement 4

 

“While the virtual performances on this website are sufficient to assess the potential of each  work, I am conscious that they  can never really approach a real performance, particularly so with this quartet. I am afraid that although the reproduction of the Seccatura resembles the original in that most of the notes are there, maybe not always in exactly the right order. Four instruments all in different, always changing time signatures occasionally defeated  our software.  If you would like to hear this quartet as it should be played then there is a wonderful recording by the man who edited this edition, Alan Hacker and the Music Party, all  playing on contemporary instruments (L’oiseau de Feu records,). 

The Hummel quartet must rank with the Mozart and Brahms Quintets as one of the three greatest chamber works for the clarinet.  In four movements, allegro moderato, la seccatura, andante, rondo allegretto, I came to know it late but it  rapidly became one of my favourites.  Once   they overcame their reticence at his seccatura, my string friends began to agree (La Seccatura meaning “The Joke” - the joke being that each part is written in a different time signature, which keeps changing at different times for one and all - if you start together and concentrate it looks much worse than it proves to be).  Played at a whisper, the opening of Andante must be the most sensuous clarinet playing ever written.”                        Tony Turrill

This edition has been prepared using a copy of the manuscript which is held in the British Library and we are grateful to them for making it available. The editor, Alan Hacker  writes:-

“To my knowledge, Hummel’s Clarinet Quartet is unique in the clarinet repertoire.  In Mozart’s Quintet the clarinet  is an honoured guest at the string’s table.  With the obvious difference of the two types of instrument, the clarinet acts as a natural soloist.  Because of its rainbow range of tone it can also take on more integrated and ambiguous roles - Brahms used all of these possibilities in his quintet, no doubt as a result of his study of Mozart’s.  It is these very qualities that make Hummel’s work so notable and satisfying and all the more remarkable in that he achieves it with one clarinet and three strings.  Hummel’s music is little known today - though it has a vague reputation for being vapid and virtuosic. Here, nothing could be further from the truth.  This pupil of Mozart and successor to Haydn at Esterhazy, what credentials,  has written a lengthy, engaging work with a wide emotional range that sets it apart from the “little concerto” quartets by Carl Stamitz, Hoffmeister, Krommer and even Crusell.”

 

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