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:: PLAYING PAUL HINDEMITH'S KAMMERMUSIK NO. 1 BY DR. WILLAM SCHIMMEL ::

Take the accordion part seriously. It forms the bridge between two styles of music: NeoClassicism and Cabaret. The accordion is the anchor.

Most of the time, the accordion doubles other instruments. Here, the accordionist must use his/her ear to create fascinating textural possibilities. A strange paradox occurs: The accordion stands out due to its ability to blend in. My favorite part is a long held "D" bass note under a bassoon solo in the finale. One no longer hears the accordion or bassoon but a new instrument, a Bassordion perhaps.

True, there are a few solo spots to shine, and shine it will: Those chromatic runs in the finale should be played "as if' one is playing a concerto.

Always keep a steady supply of air ready in the bellows before the initial "attack" on the first beat of the measure. This applies specifically to the first movement, but generally to the entire piece.

Lastly, do not play down your dramatic presence on stage. Ask the conductor to seat you where you are visible. Play the long tones and hold chords with grace and dignity, allowing the bellows to fan out freely allowing a steady supply of air enviable by any wind instrument player. And jab the accents with arrogance and wit. The piece demands it.

Hindemith wrote Kammermusik No.1 between two world wars. We "heard" the results of World War I and we "hear" the anticipation of World War II, the sadness, urgency, and humor in the face of suffering, or ironic wit. The accordion contributes greatly to this psychological manifestation and today it is especially significant. Like survivors of a great World War, the accordion too is a great survivor: It appears, it reappears, it disappears, but only to reappear again. This psychological manifestation should be carried through in the performance of this work.

Tell me, what great concerto can boast of this richness?

I have performed Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 1 with the following ensembles:

1. The Juilliard Chamber Orchestra

James Conlon, Conductor

2. The Ensemble of New York

Dennis Russel Davies, Conductor

3. The Juilliard Chamber Orchestra

Ken Gene, Conductor

4. The New York Philharmonic

Eric Leinsdorf, Conductor

5. The New York Philharmonic

Felix Krasakov, Conductor

6. The Parnassus Ensemble

Anthonv Korf, Conductor

It was written in 1923; the finale written earlier in 1921. It is scored for the following ensemble:
Flute, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, two violins, viola, cello, contrabass, piano, percussion and accordion.

William Schimmel

 

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