WORKS: Kammermusiken Nos 2, 3, 6 & 7
PERFORMER: Lars Vogt (piano), Georg Faust (cello), Wolfram Christ (viola d’amore), Wayne Marshall (organ); Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56831 2
Hindemith’s series of concertos known as Kammermusik date from the Twenties, before the composer became branded as an arch-conservative, which was before people stopped paying him any attention at all. They exemplify all that is best in his output: full of life and ideas, bustling counterpoint and dissonant flashes that never threaten entirely to jettison tonality. Based on 18th-century rather than 19th-century models and using small orchestras (sometimes only ten players), they recover for the concerto some of the conversational intimacy that was rather obscured beneath a welter of notes and gestures during the Romantic era.
Claudio Abbado proves to be the perfect guide to this repertoire, directing a Berlin Philharmonic that is energetic and spirited. This CD is the second in his recording of all seven concertos, and opens with two of the most consistently entertaining. In No. 2 for piano, Lars Vogt is an exemplary soloist, nimble and witty in the opening movement and luminous in the succeeding slow section. No less convincing is cellist Georg Faust in the Concerto No. 3 that follows. An ebullient opening gives way to some wonderfully poised and spiritual playing in the slow movement, concluding with a series of immaculately deft dance gestures in the finale.
The other two concertos, for viola d’amore and organ, reveal in both slow movements a creeping tendency to meander, but longueurs notwithstanding, Wolfram Christ and Wayne Marshall give highly polished performances and the disc as a whole will not disappoint. As a benchmark, try Markus Stenz and the Ensemble Modern. Christopher Wood