commentary to opus 102
Benedicamus Domino for Organ, Op.102 (1997)
performance : July 2, 1998, Nürnberg, St.Sebald
Duration: 17 Minutes
Publisher: Schott Music ED 8919 / ISMN: M-001-12438-6
Gregorian melody of the "Benedicamus Domino" is the starting
material for my organ composition op. 102, written in August and September, 1997
for the International Organ Week Nuremberg - Musica Sacra 1998 as a commission
from the Siemens Culture Foundation.
A Gregorian Benedicamus Domino serves as starting point for Bertold Hummel's organ work op. 102. Right at the beginning, the organ presents the basic material of the piece: the incipit of the chant (consisting of whole-tone steps) contrasts with intervallic material (the tritone, formed from three whole-tone steps), whole-tone scales mediate between the two constituents. A new element is introduced in the solo use of the pedals, whose motif material can be traced back to semitone steps. This is finally the trigger for the entry of the complete chant, in parallel second-inversion chords and in the first instance with a quiet flute stop. The array of formal elements is thereby completed: the tritone/whole-tone scale, semitone links, parallel chord sequences are now developed towards a climax before the chant sounds out in fortissimo. A song-like middle section is interrupted from time to time by toccata-like insertions enriched with repetitive groups and is finally forced from the field. A final mounting passage reaches an apotheosis in a song of praise which then yields to the last appearance of the chant as a concluding section with quiet stops (with accompaniment of the vox caelestis). Repetitive segments on the small scale and repeats of formal sections on the large scale structure the work; the technique of accompanying chant with chords in parallel motion is to be understood as a reminiscence of medieval organum (and similar techniques such as Fauxbourdon).
Dr. Andreas Jacob
Benedicamus Domino is a commission for the 47th International Organ Week Nuremberg 1998 as compulsory piece for the final round of the organ competition for the "Johann Pachelbel Prize".