Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber; Mathis der Maler Symphony; Nobilissima visione

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Hindemith
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber; Mathis der Maler Symphony; Nobilissima visione
PERFORMER: New Zealand SO/Franz-Paul Decker
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553078 DDD
I’m a little disappointed that the first two Hindemith discs to have come my way in the composer’s centenary year should both contain his three most frequently played pieces. Perhaps by the end of the year some companies will have dug a little deeper. Still, these three scores (all with theatrical origins) are among Hindemith’s most accessible works; and Sawallisch conducts the Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber with such sparkle that one marvels that Hindemith should have lumbered this hugely entertaining work with such a dreadful title. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs predictably brilliantly throughout the EMI disc, and Sawallisch proves himself to be naturally idiomatic. My one disappointment was with the finale of Nobilissima visione where, in comparison with the gloriously sonorous recordings by Blomstedt (Decca) and Tortelier (Chandos), the Passacaglia in praise of the sun seems a bit inhibited. The German conductor Franz-Paul Decker (Naxos) approaches Hindemith in a robust, straightforward manner, and the New Zealand SO, while not in the same class as the Americans, plays well. But the performances could, I guess, have done with greater contrasts: between loud and soft (the low-level recording is partly to blame) and between the moments of high energy and the spiritual serenity which is such an important part of Hindemith’s style from the Thirties onwards. Stephen Maddock

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