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Hindemith: Mathis der Maler Symphony / Bernstein, Israel


Release Date: 04/09/2007 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 429404   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is the finest version of the Konzertmusik to have appeared on disc. Bernstein may be more massig (moderate) than schnell in the opening movement but what kraft and especially schwung! The command from the podium is total; the attention to dynamics, articulation and attack are unrivalled by either Steinberg (DG) or Hindemith himself (EMI). Bernstein is, of course, in his element for the big band and blues allusions of the second movement.

He takes his time over the rapt 'Once upon a time' opening bars of the Mathis Symphony (as does the composer on DG mono), and the ''Angelic concert'' is gentle and relaxed (Blomstedt on Decca is more spirited and contrapuntally vigorous). The heart is firmly on the sleeve for the second
Read more movement, ''Entombment'', and here I confess that the open, assertive tones of the Israel woodwind and brass are rather less poignant than the whispered sorrow, nobility and gravity (the pun is definitely not intended) managed here by the composer and Rickenbacher (Virgin Classics). Come the finale, though, and all reservations are swept aside. The opening is magnificent with it's confident contouring of those twisting string recitatives, answered here by razor-sharp brass snapping like the jaws of Hell—nobody has delivered St Anthony's torments with such explicit force. And the mounting excitement and gloriously broad ritardando before the final alleluias are the most supreme example of Bernstein, the climax builder.

The closing pages of the Symphonic Metamorphosis offer a more humorous but equally joyous release—the hat-hurling elation as the March swings into top gear and the staggering precision of the final pay off are a living testament to his own inspired brand of live music-making. Again, it's a question here of other conductors being marginally preferable in individual movements. Bernstein is, arguably, too heavy in the opening Allegro, and he can't match the rich cantabile lyricism of Sir Colin Davis in the Andantino. Blomstedt and his elegant San Franciscans offer a lighter, more quicksilver wit throughout, but I've not heard a modern version of the Turandot Scherzo where the orchestra has so obviously relished all those trills and the engineering has allowed you to hear them. And the central brass fugato—well, Bernstein was born to conduct that (expectations are certainly fulfilled).

The sound, though not as spacious as Decca's for Blomstedt, is co-ordinated, clear and has an alarming physical impact. In all, a fine tribute to the rapport Bernstein had with this orchestra, to the level of excellence they were able to achieve together, and a disc to play to anyone who thinks that they don't like Hindemith.

-- John Steane, Gramophone [5/1991]
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony "Mathis der Maler" by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 04/1989 
Venue:  Live  Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv, Israel 
Length: 28 Minutes 11 Secs. 
2. Konzertmusik for Brass and Strings, Op. 50 by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1989 
Venue:  Live  Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv, Israel 
Length: 18 Minutes 17 Secs. 
3. Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 04/1989 
Venue:  Live  Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv, Israel 
Length: 20 Minutes 38 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 If you like Hindemith ... January 16, 2014 By Donald B. (Paradise, PA) See All My Reviews "This is a CD with some very beautiful music, powerfully performed by an understanding conductor and one of the world's greatest orchestras. Three Hindemith compositions are presented, though not in order. The second selection, Music for Strings and Brass, was written in 1930, and bears signs of experimentation. But what experiments! The writing for brass is brilliant and exciting; the contrasting texture of mass strings is rich; and the juxtapositions of the two show the skill of the composer in producing a third quality which is fresh and surprising. The first selection, Mathis der Mahler, was written in 1934. It is a masterwork, from Hindemith at the height of his energy and imagination. I doubt if it will ever be recorded any better than Leonard Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic do it here. Even if you have not liked Hindemith, if you listen to this at an adequate volume you will be moved, and filled with exciting questions and ideas. The third piece was written in 1943. It is the most accessible, but not to be despised for that reason. The themes from Weber are interesting, and what Hindemith does with them is both charming and memorable. The use of percussion is stunning, but perfectly integrated with the line of the piece. The music was challenging to audiences when he wrote it, but you may find yourself singing parts of this work to yourself for days after you listen to it. This is a superb piece of music making." Report Abuse
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