Martin Rummel


Martin Rummel is a virtuoso cellist who has infused almost every facet of his career to reflect an uncanny versatility: with a broad repertory of 50 or so concertos and countless other works, from Baroque to contemporary, he regularly appears as soloist with the major orchestras and as a passionate chamber music player. With over 40 CD albums on labels such as Naxos, Capriccio, Musicaphon and paladino music, his recording career is unparalleled in his generation.

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Martin Rummel
Bach | Cello Suite no. 1, BWV 1007, Prelude
When I play the first suite, it is important for me to show how the piece works as a whole right from the opening of the Prelude. It is the beginning of a journey that Bach takes us on. I find the structures of the single phrases almost irrelevant – it is like Lego: the whole is a sum of its parts. The character that is created at the start must not be lost in these one and a half minutes. That’s why I play it so that you understand the opening when you arrive at the end of the movement. If you are picking flowers on the way, the very first impression vanishes, and I think that should not happen. 
Reger: Cello Suite No. 2, Gavotte
I like the physical feeling of producing the sound of the cello. You need your whole body to make a good sound. For example: It is important what you do with your legs – against most people’s belief. Cellists also literally hug their instrument. It is thus important that the creation of the sound is within the radius of our movements. From there, the sound starts traveling – into the microphone or towards the audience. Reger’s Solo Suites don’t explain themselves straight away, they have to be conquered and only then have a chance to win over an audience. In my view, they are not only beautiful but also important pieces of music, because they are the first solo pieces for cello after the Bach Suites. 
Popper: Etude op. 73/22
I am motivated by the great luck I have to be playing with very good musicians, and to be looking forward to that. It is worth playing every day to keep up what I have learned. One is able to appreciate playing together, because it offers a way to express oneself. It is my goal for it to stay like that, and that’s why I still practise etudes myself. 
Martin Rummel
Popper: "Im Walde", Op. 50 – 1st mvt: "Eintritt"
I have a very special relationship with Popper. I have studied the Popper etudes intensively for two years, and have taught them for almost twenty. At some point I just wanted to know the human being behind the music – and now I do: he was just great, a musical genius. He played in the best orchestra of his time, then he had a world career as a soloist. He was an incredibly intelligent, witty and charismatic person. Popper was respected by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and many other famous contemporaries. At the end of his career, he mostly taught and, together with Hubay, founded a string quartet that toured the world. He has influenced our instrument like nobody else, and does so until today. 
Interview with Martin Rummel
German with English subtitles. Music list:
0:05 Bach | Cello suite no. 2, BWV 1008, Gigue
1:12 Bach | Cello suite no. 1, BWV 1007, Prelude 
2:07 David Popper | High school of cello playing, Op. 73, Etude no. 22 
3:59 David Popper | Im Walde, Op. 50, Eintritt 
5:32 Max Reger | Suite for cello solo no. 2, Op. 131c/2, Gavottte 
7:14 Bach | Cello suite no. 6, BWV 1012, Prelude 
Bach | Cello Suite no. 6, BWV 1012, Prelude
The sixth suite was originally written for a cello with five strings – it is really a transcription if it is played on a four-stringed instrument. This creates a totally different energy, which gives the piece its beauty, but also makes it a true challenge. Its exuberance must always be conveyed. The sixth suite has both emotional climaxes and very dark moments – it encompasses everything. It is a true highlight – also in a compositional way. It feels as if Bach was really pushing the limits right at the end of the cycle. Having played all six suites in one evening, you feel something very special at the end of No. 6 – like standing on Mount Everest, looking down. The audience is also usually very quiet afterwards. 
Bach | Cello Suite no. 2, BWV 1008, Gigue
The suites have a minor-major-minor structure. But even within those two groups they could not be more different from one another. The second has a Schubert-like minor key character. The fifth is tragic, but the second shows that minor can also be ‘normal’. That’s why it makes me think of Schubert: for him, minor keys are normal and major keys hurt deeply. Bach’s Suite No. 2 is not terribly sad, but still very strong.