Hindemith: Viola Sonatas

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COMPOSERS: Hindemith
LABELS: Myrios
ALBUM TITLE: Hindemith: Viola Sonatas
WORKS: Viola Sonatas, Opp. 11/4 & 25/4; Sonatas for solo viola, Opp. 11/5, 25/1 & 31/4; Sonata for solo viola (1937); Viola Sonata
PERFORMER: Tabea Zimmermann
CATALOGUE NO: MYR011 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Recordings of Hindemith’s viola music date back to those by the composer himself: the catalogue is full and rich. These wonderful works have yet to be universally embraced, though recently the discography has been swelled by some of this music’s most remarkable interpretations. Among them are those by Tabea Zimmermann, who has followed up her release last year of Hindemith’s works for viola and orchestra with this two-disc set of the complete sonatas – three with piano, and four for solo viola.

Considered individually, Zimmermann’s performances face competition from other leading exponents, but as a whole, her survey of this music is hard to beat. Beginning with Op. 11 No. 4, she presents the works in chronological order, which varies the texture. Together with the pianist Thomas Hoppe, she captures the music’s exuberance and mystery, and her strikingly warm, woody tone helps Hindemith’s melodies to sing. The sequence leads us satisfyingly towards the final work of 1939, which was composed and performed in exile. It was Hindemith’s critical judgment of his own recording of this sonata that prompted him to retire as a soloist. The solo works – haunted by the spirit of Bach – showcase the seriousness of Zimmermann’s artistry. 

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John Allison