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Hindemith: 'Bratsche!' / Tamestit, viola; Hadulla, piano; Frankfurt RSO

Notes & Reviews:

One of today's leading viola players worldwide, Antoine Tamestit has dedicated his new recording to German composer Paul Hindemith, whose 50th anniversary of death is celebrated in 2013. Hindemith has been renowned as a brilliant viola player whose composition output for this instrument ranges from solo pieces to concertos. The recording features one of the major German orchestras conducted by leading conductor Paavo Järvi. "Those who examine Hindemith's extremely diverse oeuvre without prejudice will discover the most varied facets in his music. The early works still radiate late Romantic and Impressionistic sonorities, but one can already detect in them (in the last movement of the Sonata op.11 no.4, for example) the terse humour and provocative edge that were shortly to become characteristic of his music. He enjoyed directly juxtaposing movements full of boundless energy with others of extreme restraint (as in the contrasting movements of the Viola Sonata op.25 no.1). Finally, a vein of melancholy and the expression of resignation can be heard in Der Schwanendreher and the Trauermusik, composed in times of oppression." -- Excerpt from the inside notes


Evocative performances

This release spans the breadth of Paul Hindemith's writings for the viola, from solo sonata through music for viola and orchestra. Hindemith was a violist himself, and his compositions fully realize the instrument's potential. Violist Antoine Tamestit fully understands these works and their creator, as his interview printed in the booklet shows -- as do his performances.

Tamestit notes that there is a lot of humor in Hindemith's music, and he brings it out in all of these works. Still, I'd have to characterize the orchestral works here as ones of mournful beauty. "Der Schwanendreher" is a reworking of folk songs relating to isolation and loss, composed when Hindemith was being force out of musical life by the Nazis. Tamestit subtly brings out those emotions, making the music sound wistful rather than maudlin.

"Trauermusik" explores similar themes. Hindemith's thickly-textured harmonies provide a melancholy accompaniment to the yearning melody of the viola. Paavo Jarvi and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra perform with a warm, blended sound that's ideally suited to these works.

Tamestit's performance of the solo sonata Op. 25, No. 1 is a wonderful balance of emotional expression and tasteful restraint. The structural elements are all clearly delineated, and the motives are carefully phrased to help the listener connect them as the work goes along. And yet there's a fiery passion continually roiling under the music, straining to break free.

Hindemith's sonata for viola and piano, Op. 11, No. 4 is a beautiful collaboration between Tamestit and pianist Markus Hadulla. At times the music seems to have a sweetness to it that's quite charming. As with the best chamber music performances, one has a sense of eavesdropping on a conversation. In this case, one between two good friends.
Submitted on 07/02/14 by RGraves321 
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