FRANZ HUMMEL (b.1939): Hatikva - Symphony for Clarinet and Orchestra (Giora Feidman [clarinet], Franz Hummel [piano]), Fukushima - Violin Symphony (Elena Denisova [violin]).
Catalogue Number: 03O084
Reference: TXA 12002
Description: Hummel's powerful Hatikva ("Hope") draws on the Israeli national anthem for melodic and harmonic material. The work was written for the present soloist, whose playing style is based in the klezmer tradition, and this leads to a curious dichotomy within the work from which a great deal of potent tension is derived. The clarinet is entrusted with a huge range of highly emotional expression, joyful, lamenting, protesting - and all in a deeply personal idiom, rough-hewn and vocal, removed from the refinement of the concert hall. The orchestral backdrop is a dark-toned neo-romantic canvas, very Mahlerian. The soloist and composer provide a supposedly improvised cadenza late in the piece, after which the symphony concludes with less oblique or hidden statements of the thematic material, a resolution of sorts. The Violin Symphony was originally conceived as a monument to the destruction of Hiroshima by mankind's use of nature's most powerful forces as a weapon; the current title reflects the more recent drama of an assault on civilization by nature itself, turning our use of those same forces against us. The agitated violin wanders, protesting and pleading, through a dark, post-apocalyptic orchestral landscape, this time more Berg or expressionist Schoenberg than Mahler. The whole work is one long paragraph of protest and warning, the tension unrelieved throughout in the manner, if not the vocabulary, of Pettersson. After twenty minutes of frankly harrowing imagery, a solemn, more tonal cortège provides a moment of reflection, before being swept away in a final, violent outburst. Moscow Symphony Orchestra; Alexei Kornienko.