commentary to opus 55c
Fragment for large orchestra, op. 55c (1975)
Performance : January 7, 2000, Bamberg, Sinfonie an der Pegnitz
Instrumentation: 18.104.22.168 - 22.214.171.124 - Timp., Perc., Hrp., Strings
Duration: 12 Minutes
Publisher: N. Simrock Hamburg-London (Boosey & Hawkes)
The Fragment for large orchestra, op. 55c, traces the action of the last section of the ballet. Once again, the Dictator with his lackeys enters the scene. As "liberators", they fan the flames of hate and envy amongst the peoples. They demonstrate their might and start a total war with nuclear weapons of extermination. This time, the destruction is so complete that neither man nor beast have any chance of survival. In vain, the Last Flower (flute solo) strives to grow and bloom. It dies in the deadly atomic rain.
In 1974, Bertold Hummel composed his ballet "The Last Flower " after an illustrated story by James Thurber. While Thurber's destruction and reconstruction follow each other in an endless chain, in which mankind always forgets why they are actually at war - the plot is thus more or less an eternal repetition, quasi a rondo of human stupidity and cruelty - Hummel dared to devise a conclusion which warns that destruction can in fact be total if man does not recognise where the roots of the evil lie: in greed for power and possession, in hate and contempt for one's fellow man.
Nürnberger Nachrichten, 12th January, 2000
From the beginning of the work's 15 minutes, powerful percussion and raw, threatening brass sounds set an apocalyptic tone, depict a shattering catastrophe. Hummel orchestrates the scene from the end of time virtuosically, but denies himself the relief of soothing melody; the lamenting flute sound of the Last Flower passes like a lonely will-o'-the-wisp through the rows before the "deadly atomic rain" falls.
Nürnberger Zeitung, 12th January, 2000
Unsettling, threatening: the première of Hummel's finale fragment, "The Last Flower" was an explosion. The mighty orchestral forces sculpted a horrifying scenario from the end of time. Insertions of strictly formulated rhythms, tone rows and droning bass ostinatos create an illusion of order in a despotic, chaotic (compositional) world. The music illustrates graphically a total catastrophe; the flute as symbol of the Flower can no longer seek to awaken hope but only to utter a melancholy, final confirmation as it dies away in a glissando siren wail.
Fränkischer Tag, Bamberg, 12th January, 2000
The explosion-like development of sound that characterises this work .. is appealingly and subtly orchestrated .. and was effective, as the positive reaction in the hall showed.