Hindemith’s music seems to be out of fashion these days. There was a time in the 1960s and 70s when few major violinists did not program his Violin Concerto–sort of a modern German composer’s answer to Brahms. Check out, for example, the extended passage for wind ensemble that opens the slow movement. It’s so like Brahms in concept, but so totally unlike him in sonority. David Oistrakh and Isaac Stern both made excellent recordings of this splendid work, and this one certainly stands with them. Frank Peter Zimmermann plays with a tonal purity and intonational accuracy that Hindemith would have admired. Again, that plaintive slow movement stands out for its lyrical beauty and simplicity, butRead more Zimmermann shows no lack of virtuosity in the outer movements, and he’s both ideally balanced and compellingly accompanied by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony under Paavo Järvi.
The couplings make this a release of more than usual interest, and a very useful disc for collectors looking to round out their libraries of Hindemith’s violin music. All four sonatas belong with his best chamber works, with the charming and melodically sweet Sonata in E of 1935 retaining a strong degree of historical interest as well. It was the performance of this unassumingly pleasant piece in 1936 that led to the formal campaign against Hindemith by the Nazi regime, and his subsequent departure from Germany. The contrast between the character of the music itself and the official reaction to it could not have been more ironic. In any case, Zimmermann plays with the same conviction that he brings to the concerto, nowhere more so than in the tricky Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 31 No. 2, with its folksy variation finale. In the three accompanied sonatas pianist Enrico Pace is Zimmermann’s sensitive and intelligent partner. A great disc, then, superbly engineered and smartly programmed.
Concerto for Violinby Paul Hindemith Performer:
Frank Peter Zimmermann (Violin)
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1939; Switzerland