About this Recording
8.573000 - KUMMER, F.A. / SCHUBERT, F. François: Duos for Violin and Cello (Eichhorn, Hülshoff)
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Frédéric Kummer (1797–1879) and François Schubert (1808–1878)
Duos for Violin and Cello


Frédéric Kummer (originally Friedrich August Kummer) was born on 5th August, 1797, in Meiningen, which from 1680 to 1920 was the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen. A pupil of his father, a court oboist in Meiningen and Dresden (where the family moved when Kummer was very young), he later studied under Justus Johann Friedrich Dotzauer (1783–1860), one of the founders of what Lev Ginsburg called the Dresden School of cello-playing. He joined the Dresden electoral court orchestra in 1814 as an oboist and in 1817 transferred to the cello section. In 1852 he replaced his teacher as principal cellist and remained in this position until his retirement. Kummer toured in the 1820s and 1830s, giving recitals in Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, Weimar, and further afield in Vienna, Prague, Milan, and Copenhagen. He was a member of a quartet that also featured François Schubert and Karol Lipiński; Kummer and Schubert often collaborated as a duo apart from the quartet, “enchanting audiences by their amazing sense of ensemble playing”. He was appointed a professor at the Dresden Conservatory at its founding in 1856 and counted many fine cellists as his students, including his two sons Ernst and Max, Bernhard Cossman, and Julius Goltermann. Kummer composed over 400 works, of which approximately 200 were published. Among these works are 200 entr’actes written for the theatre, virtuoso works for cello, and pedagogical works. Kummer’s Violoncello-Schule, Op. 60 (1839), or Cello Method, is still in print; other pedagogical works include Ten Melodic Studies, Op. 57, and Grand Etudes, Op. 44. Kummer died in Dresden on 22nd August, 1879.

François Schubert (originally Franz Anton Schubert, sometimes called “the younger” to distinguish him from his father) was born on 22nd July, 1808 in Dresden, where he studied the violin with his father (also named Franz Anton Schubert) and Antonio Rolla (1798–1837), and then later in Paris with Charles Philippe Lafont (1781–1839), a pupil of Kreutzer and Rode. Sometimes confused with the much more famous Vienna Franz Schubert, he adopted ‘François’ while in Paris, where he also became a friend of Chopin. A song entitled Mein Frieden, probably written by François Schubert, actually appeared in the Vienna Schubert ’s catalogue. François Schubert returned to Dresden in 1833 and spent the remainder of his career there. In 1861 he assumed leadership of the Dresden orchestra, replacing Karol Lipiński. Among his compositions are works based on opera tunes, études for violin, and other works featuring the violin. His most famous work is a set of short pieces entitled Bagatelles: 12 morceaux detachés pour Violon avec Accompagnement de Piano, Op. 13 (1856–1862). The ninth bagatelle is often anthologized in collections of short works for violin: L’Abeille or Die Biene (The Bee). He died in Dresden on 12th April, 1878.

Kummer and Schubert delighted audiences with their violin/cello duos, and their fine ensemble partly derived from their collaboration as joint composers. This recording presents three sets of two duets each: Deux Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle sur des thèmes favoris de Zampa et de Guillaume Tell; Deux Duos de Concert pour Violon et Violoncelle, Op. 67; and Deux Duos de Concert pour Violon et Violoncelle, Op. 52. Both composers’ names appear as authors on all the music except for Deux Duos de Concert pour Violon et Violoncelle, Op. 67, whose title page lists only Kummer. All works feature fast runs, double stops and chords, pizzicato and harmonics, and require fine ensemble élan.

The first work from Deux Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle is based on themes from Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold’s (1791–1833) opera Zampa, ou La fiancée de marbre (Zampa or the Marble Fiancée). Hérold wrote operas and ballets; among his operas the best known are Zampa (1831) and Le Pré aux Clercs (1832). Zampa is a retelling of the Don Juan story, and was one of the most popular spoken dialogue operas (called opéra-comique) during the 19th century. In D major, the work begins Allegro, revealing several dolce passages and much virtuoso passagework. This leads to an Andantino with two variations, then a melancolico section in Minor and 3/4 time. The piece returns to 2/4 time, major and Allegro for the remainder of the work, ending, after a halt encompassing two fermatas, with a galloping fortissimo Vivace.

The second duet from Deux Duos concertans pour Violon et Violoncelle is based on themes from Guillaume Tell. In 4/4 time and in G major, the work begins quietly with an Adagio, followed by an Allegro moderato and three variations. A winsome Moderato in 3/4 time makes an entrance, then an Allegro in 2/4, which, after a trilled section by both instruments, leads to a brief restatement of the 3/4 Moderato theme before the final Presto in 2/4 time.

The Deux Duos de Concert pour Violon et Violoncelle, Op. 67 consists of two works. No. 1 is Fantaisie brillante sur un motif de Bellini. Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835) was one of the great architects of Italian bel canto opera. In D major, the piece begins with an Allegro risoluto / Adagio introduction leading to the moderato theme, marked dolce, which is presented very simply; these materials are treated in more virtuoso fashion and lead to a con gusto section, a slower moderato section, then a final Allegro interrupted by several fermatas before the con fuoco coda.

The opus 67 companion work is the G major Introduction et Variations sur un thème suisse. A molto moderato introduction in 3/8 time ends with a short cadenza leading to the moderato dolce theme in 3/4 time. After two variations (alternately highlighting violin and then cello), a G minor intermezzo, marked Allegro con fuoco and in 4/4 time, enters pianissimo but eventually ends fortissimo; a pianissimo fermata leads back to G major and 3/4 time, first as a quiet moderato molto whose tune is carried by the cello and then by the final Allegro molto section.

The final pair of duets, Deux Duos de Concert pour Violon et Violoncelle, begins with Souvenir de Fra Diavolo. Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782–1871) and Eugene Scribe (1791–1861) are usually credited with the creation of grand opera; Fra Diavolo, ou L’hôtellerie de Terracine (Fra Diavolo, or The Inn of Terracina) is considered Auber and Scribe’s best opera-comique. Premiered in 1830, Fra Diavolo was one of the most popular operas during the 19th century, logging 900 Parisian performances by 1907. Beginning vigorously with an Allegro marziale in C major and in 4/4 time, the opening section eventually winds down pianissimo to an Adagio. The Adagio is followed by an Allegro moderato in E major marked Fieramente with two variations. A risoluto section is followed by a dolce Allegretto in 6/8, later marked energico, that returns to C major. An Allegro molto section is followed by a 2/4 L’istesso tempo; a series of trills on violin and later cello herald the return to a dolce 6/8 Moderato, but this is only a brief interlude before a 2/4 Vivace section, which ends with fortissimo chords in both instruments.

The final work, and the second of the Deux Duos de Concert pour Violon et Violoncelle, Op. 52, is Fantaisie sur des airs nationaux styriens (Fantasy on Styrian National Airs) in G major. Styria (German: Steiermark) is an area located in southeast Austria. The quiet Misterioso opening in 4/4 time soon moves to a 6/8 Andantino agitato. The next section, in 3/4 time, features the violin in a ländler (3/4 Austrian dance) marked Moderato grazioso. The folk material is worked out in virtuoso fashion, coming to a fermata halt after a chordal section marked passionato. The following 3/8 Molto allegro ends with a Presto coda.

Bruce Schueneman

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