Hamabdil-A Hebrew Melody for Cello and Piano
Granville Bantock (1868-1946) was born in London. He studied composition with Frederick Corder at the Royal Academy of Music in tht city. After completing his studies, he pursued a career as a conductor, teacher and composer. He eventually settled in Birmingham where he helped to found the City of Birmingham Orchestra and became a Professor of Music at Birmingham University. Several diverse elements influenced his work, including Scottish folk songs and the music of Richard Wagner.
Hamabdil, subtitled a Hebrew Melody, started out life as incidental music to Arnold Bennett’s play Judith, composed in 1919. He immediately recycled the work in three versions for cello, one with piano, one with harp and one with timpani. Hamabdil (usually transliterated as Hamaydil) is based on the traditional Hebrew hymn sung at the conclusion of the Sabbath service. Bantock sets the work in g minor giving it an austere and dignified setting. The beautiful music is highly evocative.
The relatively short, approximately 6 minutes, work makes a fine recital choice where a shorter work is required. Written very well for the cello, it requires musicality and not technical fireworks for its effect.