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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Girls sitting by the water (c1920) by Otto Mueller (1874-1930)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67721
Recording details: April 2008
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: June 2009
Total duration: 22 minutes 45 seconds

'Not since the days of William Primrose have I heard Hindemith's viola music played with such warmth and conviction' (Gramophone)

'Some of Hindemith's most haunting tunes went into his viola music … this is the first volume of a projected and very welcome series devoted to the viola works of a composer who played the instrument himself and wrote prolifically for it … [Sonata No 4] gives Power a chance to show off the gorgeously smooth tone of his 400-year-old instrument … Power's acute sense of phrasing makes for an eloquent and elegiac 'Meditation'' (BBC Music Magazine)

'All the performances are superb, with Lawrence Power lavishing all the richness of his velvety tone and generous phrasing on some of the most striking melodic ideas that Hindemith ever produced' (The Guardian)

'Both players have the measure of this music, both technically and musically. They offer more verve and variety of both tone and musical approach than Kim Kashkashian and Robert Levin for ECM … all in all, these are excellent, well-recorded performances of these fine works, brooding and turbulent in the best traditions of the early twentieth century' (International Record Review)

'Power plays with his piercing intelligence of tone; Crawford-Phillips' pianism is quick with life' (The Sunday Times)

'Power and Crawford-Phillips discover more in the music than has been revealed to us in the past … vital performances' (Fanfare, USA)

Viola Sonata
1939; first performed by the composer at Harvard on 18 April 1939

Sehr lebhaft  [4'24]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
During his third concert tour of the USA, in the early months of 1939, Hindemith composed his third and largest Viola Sonata (which was also his last composition for the instrument as a soloist).

This four-movement Sonata for viola and piano, which he premiered at Harvard on 18 April 1939, has unexpected affinities—from the standpoint of Hindemith’s most mature idiom—with the early F major Sonata, insofar as it possesses a ‘Phantasie’ movement, the finale includes two variations, and the work itself is more or less centred on F, though neither major not minor but a continual blend of the two. (In fact the work has no declared key-signature, and as a result has sometimes been incorrectly designated as a ‘Sonata in C’.) On the other hand it speaks entirely with the voice of the mature Hindemith, in strong, confident and sustained polyphonic lines. The determined and ardent first movement has an overall sonata shape, with a more tranquil subsidiary theme; working to an impressive climax, it displays the increased emotional warmth typical of Hindemith’s works of the late 1930s, a quality which indeed informs the whole sonata. There follows a powerful Scherzo, playing with rapidly changing lengths of bar, and with an emphatic rhythmic tag which Hindemith develops with great resource and sardonic wit while the piano contributes fanfare-like figures and perpetuum mobile accompaniments, or sinisterly stalks the viola in staccato.

The ‘Phantasie’ slow movement proves to be a rhapsodic and increasingly dramatic blend of recitative and arioso, the viola now well to the fore. The finale begins affably enough, and its second subject emerges as a miniature march. But instead of a conventional development these materials are treated in two highly contrasted variations, the first mysterious and capricious, the piano contributing bird-like warbles and runs, the second more decisive and vigorous, sweeping the sonata to a triumphant conclusion on a unison F.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2009

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