Fantaisie (Op. 77)
"Ah! perfido" [L. v. Beethoven]
Klarinette in B und Klavier
Christian Rummel was born in 1787 in Gollachostheim in upper Franconia, and began his musical education with the guild of town musicians where he learned clarinet and piano. He studied violin with Heinrich Ritter (Mannheim), composition with Karl Jakob Wagner (Darmstadt), and subsequently debuted as a concert pianist. Joining the military quite young, he soon became Kapellmeister in the 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment (1806-1813). He resigned from the service to teach music at the Wiesbaden Pädagogium, where Duke Wilhelm I of Nassau commissioned him to establish and conduct a court orchestra (in 1842 this group would be incorporated into the orchestra of the Wiesbaden theater). Rummel enjoyed a sterling reputation as a conscientious orchestra conductor, and the court orchestra soon became one of the most renowned in Germany. Already appointed as Kapellmeister in 1823, Rummel died in Wiesbaden in 1849.
As a composer Rummel’s style was representative of his age and his works enjoyed many performances, but he was also known for arranging the works of others in piano-vocal scores or for wind Harmonie. On the occasion of a trip to Vienna, the recommendation of Rummel’s publisher Schott led to a meeting with his great model Beethoven.
Rummel’s Fantaisie for clarinet and piano of Beethoven’s Scène et l‘Air „Ah! perfido“ was released in 1833 as Op. 77 by Schott, Mainz (plate no. 3700) and dedicated to the former solo clarinetist of the Nassau Court Orchestra, Theodore Schmidt. Beethoven’s original concert aria Op. 65, already composed and premiered in 1796, employed text from Pietro Metastasio’s opera Achille in Sciro and was first published in 1805 by Hoffmeister of Leipzig.
Wholly in the typical style of instrumental arrangements of popular opera tunes for the most disparate forces, the Fantaisie is a virtuoso vehicle. After a bravura introduction, the clarinet effectively reflects the emotion and drama of the recitatives and subsequent aria. But the knowledgeable Rummel presents no unplayable technical challenges for the solo instrument, which remains within the formal context of the musical message.