WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Hindemith: Music For Cello / Sebastien Hurtaud

Release Date: 12/10/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573172   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Sébastien HurtaudPamela Hurtado
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

HINDEMITH 3 Pieces for Cello and Piano , op. 8. Variations on “A Frog He Went A-Courting.” Sonata for Solo Cello , op. 25/3. Sonata for Cello and Piano (1948) Sébastien Hurtaud (vc); Pamela Hurtardo (pn) NAXOS 8.573172 (61:28)

HINDEMITH Read more class="ARIAL12b">Variations on “A Frog He Went A-Courting.” Sonata for Solo Cello , op. 25/3. 3 Pieces for Cello and Piano , op. 8. Sonata for Cello and Piano , op. 11/3 Judith Ermert (vc); Daan Vandewalle (pn) FUGA LIBERA 713 (64:01)

Each of these young cellists has rapidly established an international reputation. Sébastien Hurtaud is a multiple prize winner; Judith Ermert became solo cello of the Brussels Philharmonic at age 26 and became professor at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent a year later. Their paths may have crossed at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he studied with Karina Georgian and she with Ralph Kirshbaum.

Both produce deep, luminous tone from their instruments. Ermert’s can be almost supernaturally potent, as the warm, reverberant Fuga Libera recording has at least one microphone very close to the cello. It’s fascinating to hear, but the recording’s reverberance, while doing much for the cello, smoothes and softens the piano’s impact. Naxos’s sound is more realistic if less sensational, and it balances the instruments well; its drier ambience allows us to hear more clearly. It doesn’t take long for a more vital difference to appear: Hurtaud and Hurtardo make Hindemith’s music sing as few cello/piano duos have done before. Their performances are more about making music together than about playing their instruments. One notes that Vanderwalle—excellent though he may be—is not Ermert’s regular duo partner. There is no lack of technique, musicianship, or togetherness with Fuga Libera’s soloists; rather, it is the Naxos pair who shine so brightly as to put competition in their shade. They also have an additional factor going for them: The 1948 Sonata is one of the composer’s most involving pieces of chamber music; its final Passacaglia is complex, exciting, and challenging to listeners as well as to performers. Perhaps Hindemith’s first post-war (1947) return to Europe reinvigorated his composing; one has to go back to the 1940 Symphony in E? and the 1942 Symphonic Metamorphosis to find anything of comparable depth or spirit from his pen.

The Naxos program provides a wining progression, starting with Hindemith’s first published work, the Three Pieces—charming Romantic works that recall their musical forebears but don’t seem to know where they are going and spend too much time not getting there. Then come the sparkling, succinct 12 variations on an old English folk song—with a little imagination, one can hear each of the many animals. Next is the technically demanding solo Sonata, which Hurtaud tears through with the aplomb of a Feuermann and the soul of a Rostropovich (and in which Ermert is equally impressive). All this leads to the magnificent 1948 Sonata, the climax of the Naxos disc.

If the beauty of a cello’s sound is of primary importance to you, you may prefer the Fuga Libera disc, but the Naxos duo continually involves me more strongly in the music. As I play a single movement for comparison, Ermert’s cello usually grabs my attention first, but, as the music progresses, Hurtaud and Hurtado’s performances inevitably win me over. I am delighted to note that they are recording all of Hindemith’s cello and piano music for Naxos, so we may expect another CD. The recording session of the Phantasiestücke (the second of the Three Pieces) may be viewed on YouTube, where one sees that the microphones are placed at a respectful distance from the cello. The near similarity of the performers’ names and their long association (they studied at several institutions more or less simultaneously) raises the question of their personal relationship: Are they spouses or siblings? Each of their web sites avoids the issue, mentioning the other only in regard to the Hindemith recordings. Just rejoice that they are performing and recording together.

FANFARE: James H. North
Read less

Works on This Recording

Sonata for Cello solo, Op. 25 no 3 by Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Sébastien Hurtaud (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Germany 
Sonata for Cello and Piano by Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Pamela Hurtado (Piano), Sébastien Hurtaud (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; Switzerland 
Pieces (3) for Cello and Piano, Op. 8 by Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Sébastien Hurtaud (Cello), Pamela Hurtado (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; Germany 
A Frog he went a-courting by Paul Hindemith
Performer:  Pamela Hurtado (Piano), Sébastien Hurtaud (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USA 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title