Romberg was born in Dinklage. His father, Anton Romberg, played the bassoon and cello and gave Bernhard his first cello lessons. He first performed in public at the age of seven. Together with his cousin, he later joined the court orchestra of the Prince Elector Archbishop of Cologne in Bonn conducted by the Kapellmeister Andrea Luchesi in , where they met the young Beethoven. Beethoven admired and respected Bernhard Romberg as a musician.
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Preface The concerto for flute and orchestra by Romberg is a tour-de-force work that exploits the technical and expressive capabilities of the instrument and foreshadows the later Romantic style. It is his Op. The scoring for strings, two oboes, two horns, two bassoons and timpani are more reflective of the orchestration of Classical-era works, although the presence of the timpani is a more unique addition.
Bernhard Romberg was a noted cellist and composer of his time. Innovations in cello technique introduced by Romberg include minimizing the then wide variety of clef possibilities to the now standard bass, tenor and treble as well as designing modifications to the instrument to facilitate technique. Romberg concertized in Europe and demonstrated prodigious talent at an early age.
His virtuosity is displayed in his compositional style. In the Flute Concerto he illustrates familiarity with the newly emerging virtuoso writing for violin, possibly due to the direction of one of his teachers, and winds, likely due to the influence of his brothers Anton, a bassoonist and Gerhard, a clarinetist. However, Romberg does not simply write string music for the flute, as was a common approach. He clearly understood some of the idiomatic requirements of wind writing.
This work is a good example of the transition in this genre from the solo-orchestra alteration of new material and familiar themes to the concerto as a vehicle to showcase the prowess of a polished performer with the orchestra for support. After a fanfare-like opening with a full orchestra sound, the entrance of the solo flute is with a phrase that covers a two octave range in a beautifully constructed arc that reaches the upper range before descending two octave over two measures to close.
It can be difficult for a flutist to project on the lowest C, especially in the fast passages that follow, indicating the level of ability required for this piece. The Exposition immediately demonstrates the technical demands of the piece with expansive lines at a brisk pace.
The placement of a fermata at the end of the A theme is unusual. It seems too early for a cadenza and it is most likely a dramatic effect that Romberg wanted to impose. It is possible that some performers would choose to add a very brief flourish here. The second theme of the exposition opens with a set of fast triplet passages that descend, in contrast with the ascending fanfare of the A theme. After one phrase into the B theme, Romberg once again interrupts with a fermata, although this is followed by composed brief embellishment in the flute line.
Performers of this concerto should bear this marking in mind when making the decision as to whether or not to add their own embellishment to the first fermata. The closing theme is in the relative B minor and adds a sense of pathos, but with a conclusion on D, centering it in the major mode. The close of the Exposition is a display of complex technique, combining a variety of motivic patterns and articulations in an almost dizzying array.
The Development comes as something of a surprise as, while containing numerous technical passages, Romberg uses this area to demonstrate the lyrical capability of the flute. Here the performer would be best suited to emphasize the half note rather than the quarter as the phrasing is very broad. The Development concludes with a re-statement of the timpani solo, this time twice as long, followed by the triplet figures on the flute as were laid out in the Exposition.
The conclusion of this section, almost identical to its counterpart in the Exposition except without the fermatas, leads to the Recapitulation. Romberg does not write an exact re-statement of the Exposition but rather with the entrance of the solo flute moves directly to the lyrical melody of the closing theme of the Exposition. There is no marking for a cadenza at the end of the movement.
This is not surprising as the concerto was written as the improvised cadenza was being phased out in favor of composer-conceived cadenzas or none at all.
The second movement, marked Andante grazioso, is a lyrical, expressive work, which as in the first movement, exploits almost the entire range of the instrument. The A theme remains primarily in the upper range of the instrument while the B theme is more expansive in range as well as more varied in rhythm. The return of the A theme is not exact at all. Romberg makes reference to its opening motive but soon after offers new virtuosic passages.
The third movement, a Rondo Allegretto , is a delight and a dazzling display of technical prowess for the solo flute. The opening theme A is a folk-like melody over a pesante orchestral accompaniment. The B and C sections are successively more technically challenging. As compared with the overall duple groups in the A theme, the B section theme contrasts with an exploration of triplet rhythms in sixteenth notes, allowing for longer chromatic scales.
A return to duple grouping provides the transition to the return of the A theme. The C section theme exploits the sixteenth note dotted rhythms of the A theme for the first expression of the section.
The section then develops further to a display of scale and arpeggio patterns across a variety of rhythmic groupings.
Romberg ends this section with a declamation of the rhythmic activity and a diminution of the melody to repeated half steps on the motivic dotted rhythm that serves as the transition back to the A theme. This is a seven-part Rondo, which is a bit unusual. Clearly, Romberg decided to write a concerto of some substance of length as well as virtuosity. A particular feature of the D section is the area of call and response between the solo flute and the orchestra, elevating the ensemble from its wholly supportive role.
The final return of the A theme is truncated by the interruption of a brief cadenza-type flourish in the solo flute part. This is reminiscent of the bravura style repertoire of Friedrich Kuhlau and Jean-Louis Tulou that was beginning to populate the flute music canon at that time.
Rather than ending the movement with a final re-statement of the A theme, Romberg introduces an extended Coda with a new theme and as a new section marked Allegro non troppo. This faster tempo enables a final display of virtuosity for the flutist and brings to close a concerto that is more than worthy of a place alongside the major works for the flute. For performance material contact Peters, Leipzig.
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Flute Concerto, Op.17 (Romberg, Bernhard)