08 Apr 2008

KUMMER: Cello Duets

If Friedrich August Kummer is not a household word in your home, no reason for concern — he is one of the prolific Kleinmeistern of the post-Beethoven generation, a generation for which the cost of printing had dropped so much that it was financially possible for a composer to produce hundreds of published opuses.

Friedrich August was a cellist, a student of Dotzauer; another member of the family was Kaspar (or Gaspar), a prolific composer for the flute.

The disc of selected duets from Friedrich August (items from op. 22, op. 103, and 0p. 156) recorded by cellists Phoebe Carrai and Tanya Tomkins, on period instruments, is simply lovely. The sound is rich and warm, without being strident, and the music is lyrical, romantic, while retaining some of the restraint of the classical era. Such attractive works for duo are rare (another example might be the Offenbach duos for the same combination), and the performances are top-notch (not surprising, given that Carrai played for years with Reinhard Goebel). Not just for string-players, but for all music-lovers.

Tom Moore