Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Hindemith
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Sonatas for althorn, cello, trombone, violin and trumpet
PERFORMER: Jeroen Berwaerts (trumpet), Teunis van der Zwart (althorn), Gérard Costes (trombone), Isabelle Faust (violin), Alexander Rudin (cello), Alexander Melnikov (piano)


The patron saint of neglected instruments, Hindemith composed more than 30 sonatas for very diverse resources – including, unusually, such instruments as the bass tuba and double bass. Among the more obscure combinations is the Sonata for Althorn and Piano, which opens this arresting new disc, and stands out further for including a spoken dialogue between the two players (here, Teunis van der Zwart and Alexander Melnikov) at the start of its finale. Sonata-starved trombonists also value Hindemith’s contribution to their repertoire, but as Gérard Costes shows, this is not merely Gebrauchsmusik (utility music), useful only to performers themselves. Played with blazing tone by Jeroen Berwaerts, the Trumpet Sonata emerges with particular brilliance. These three brass sonatas generally come across with more subtlety than on the well-known recordings by Glenn Gould and friends. Anchoring this new project, Alexander Melnikov is a superbly thoughtful and questing pianist.

Isabelle Faust finds the Apollonian restraint of the E major Sonata for Violin and Piano yet also its intensity, and Alexander Rudin proves up to the virtuosic demands of the magnificent work written for the great cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. Even in the more unfamiliar corners of his output, Hindemith writes in an attractive, lilting style that reminds us he was one of the few German composers to admit folk music to his work. The Hindemith anniversary of 2013 opened the gates to a welcome flood of excellent recordings, which happily show no sign of drying up, and this new release stands high among them.


John Allison