Hindemith: Viola Sonatas

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COMPOSERS: Hindemith
LABELS: NAIVE
ALBUM TITLE: Hindemith: Viola Sonatas
WORKS: Viola Sonata, Op. 11 No. 4; Solo Viola Sonata, Op. 25 No. 1; Der Schwanendreher; Trauermusik
PERFORMER: Antoine Tamestit (viola), Markus Hadulla (piano); Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: V 5329

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Bratsche! It’s not often that the German word for ‘viola’ comes with an exclamation mark attached, but the cover of Antoine Tamestit’s new release heralds something worth celebrating. Among the latest of the new star violists to record Hindemith, Tamestit brings his wonderful musical intelligence to bear on some of the greatest music written for the instrument. Tamestit has selected four contrasting works that reflect that composer’s expressive range: one of the solo sonatas, one of the sonatas with piano, and two very different works for viola and orchestra.

Ideally recorded, the Paris-born player captures all the haunting, flowing lyricism of the Op. 11 No. 4 Sonata, a piece whose big piano part is also superbly handled here by Markus Hadulla. Without compromising his tone, he delivers one of the more intense accounts on disc of the solo work Op. 25 No. 1. Hindemith’s notorious marking of its fourth movement – ‘Racing rhythm, wild. Beauty of tone is of secondary importance. Crotchet = 600-640’ – reflects his place as an enfant terrible of the 1920s, and Tamestit attacks it with mesmerising ferocity. He explores the melancholy vein of both Der Schwanendreher and Trauermusik in satisfying dialogue with Paavo Järvi and his Frankfurt orchestra. From both a performance and repertoire point of view, there is surely no better single-disc introduction to Hindemith’s viola music for anyone still unfamiliar with it.

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John Allison