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Divertimento No.3, Op.14 - Antonin Kammel

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A. Kammel - Divertimento No.3 Allegro (Excerpt)

A. Kammel - Divertimento No.3, Op.14 - Full Piece Recording 

Composer: Antonin Kammel  (1730-1784)

 

I didn't find very much about Kammel.  He was born in what is now the Czech Republic.

 

Wikipedia mentions he had a great knowledge of forestry, which is...neat?

 

Also, by complete coincidence, Kammel was an almost exact contemporary of Giovan Noferi (born the same year, dies two years later) and travelled to England in 1765 where Noferi was living.  Kammel published music and gave performances in England; I wonder if he and Noferi ever met.

 

Kammel was a compatriot of, and was presumably friends with, Johann Christian Bach, J.S. Bach's son.

This Smithsonian article is about a recently discovered portrait of Kammel and quotes composer/researcher Baker as saying he was "well known in his day but...largely forgotten today because there [wasn't] a picture of him."

Date: ?  Score says it was published in London, so presumably it was after 1765 when Kammel went London.

Original Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello 

Movements:

  1. Allegro

  2. Adagio

  3. Minuet

Why this one:

 

"Divertimento" means "amusement" in Italian.  They're usually light pieces for chamber ensemble.   I picked this because it's a short quartet and I like the word "divertimento."

Description:  

Movement 1 - Allegro

Key: C

Time: 2/4  BPM=120

 

This is a pretty simple movement based on a repeated short-short-long rhythmic motif.  The division of labor is pretty even with the instruments mostly harmonizing with each other over the same rhythmic patterns.  

 

There's only a few spots where there are accidentals; I'm not sure if they're significant enough to modulate the key center.  There's certainly no dramatically obvious key changes, but if you told me there's brief sections in F and G I'd believe you.

Performance:

 

I did the cello part first, in the same session as I did the Noferi and Frontini.  (I was having a good day.)  The cello was fairly easy.  The viola was next and I, again, had no issues.

 

I did the two violin parts in the same session and pretty much cruised through this movement.

Movement 2 - Adagio

Key: C

Time: 3/4  BPM=65

The overall structure of this slow movement is ABA.  The melody in the A section is mostly carried by the violin 1.  To my ear, there's two ideas in this section, with the a idea in the key of F and the b idea in C (the V of the home key).  Pretty standard classical move there.  

 

In the B section stays in C major, with the cello taking the melody before being joined by violin 2.  The violin 1 is actually tacit (i.e. not playing) for a lot of it. 

 

In the recapitulation (i.e. return to the A section) the a and b ideas come back, with b now in the home key of F.  (Also pretty standard maneuver for a recapitulation.)

Performance:

 

No issue with the cello or the viola.  The violin 1 part took way longer than I had anticipated.  This movement is the the hardest violin 1 part in the piece and I had an off day.  

 

I had trouble with the opening two measure theme, which has lots of grace note pull-offs in the first measure and a three note grace note run on the downbeat of measure two.  The first measure took me a bit as grace not pull-offs are tough to play on the mandolin.  The high string tension and lack of sustain make the grace notes easy to make sound like mistakes.  I ended up having to adjust how I was fretting the measure to make sure I was using my stronger fingers for the flourishes.  

 

If theme measure 1 was an execution challenge, measure 2 was a conceptual challenge.  Having to play the three note run up to the second measure downbeat meant I had to steal time from either the downbeat or the final note of measure 1.  I had been practicing with the first idea, but when listening back to my first take, I realized that i should have done the second to make sure the downbeat actually landed on the downbeat.  Delaying the downbeat with the grace notes made it sound de-synced with the cello and viola.

 

I sorted it out, but it took a little while to figure out how to adjust what I was playing.  And I was having a bad playing day.  I made a lot of stupid mistakes in the rest of the movement even (especially) on the easy parts.  

 

Violin 2 is significantly easier than violin 1 and I didn't have much trouble, though I didn't exactly work quickly.

Movement 3 - Minuet

Key: C

Time: 3/4  BPM=115

 

This movement, being in 3/4 time, is vaguely waltz-like.  Duh, it's a minuet.  

The overall structure is ABCDA.  The A and B sections are in C major, then the piece shifts to G major for section C.  There's a pretty striking change in the D section to G minor, and then the piece closes out with a return to the A section.

There isn't really one instrument dominating the melody in this and the instruments tend to play parts in pairs.

Performance:

 

No problems with the cello; of the three movements, none of which were all that difficult on the cello, this was the easiest.  The viola part went quickly as there was really only one even potentially tricky part, and I played it well.

 

The violin 1 part is not difficult but it took me way too long. I kept making concentration mistakes on the really easy parts and lost my place more than once, of course just close enough to the beginning that I had to just start completely over.  I was really annoyed with myself.  Representative quote from me in the booth: "Get it together, Matt, they're f*cking quarter notes"

 

Violin 2 went ok.

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