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Hyperion Records

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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: 16 minutes 22 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 in F major, Op 11 No 4
1919; first performed by Hindemith and Emma Lübbecke-Job in Frankfurt on 2 June 1919

Fantasie: Ruhig  [2'55]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Though not without original touches, this graceful and amiable sonata is one of few works which hints at the source of Hindemith’s style in the sound-world of Brahms and even Dvorák. There is also a Franco-Russian strain, perhaps heightened by a study of Debussy (whom his wartime commanding officer had especially admired). Little in the sonata’s musical language would have caused surprise in the 1890s, though few pieces of that era modulate so freely. The rather unusual form, with a short introductory movement, a theme and variations, and a finale that interrupts the variation-sequence only to resume it later, suggests the genre of fantasy-sonata cultivated by some of the Romantic composers.

The first movement’s lulling initial melody might almost be by Brahms, though the chromatic harmonization of its counter-statement points to César Franck. A cadenza-like passage leads into the variation movement, whose folk-song-flavoured theme is rather redolent of the Russian nationalist school (Borodin, say, filtered through Debussy). The ensuing four variations are more individual, however, with the part-writing turning increasingly into real polyphony.

The finale disrupts the process: it resembles a self-contained sonata-form movement with two contrasting ideas—the first assertive, with a prominent three-note rhythmic figure, and the second a gentle, lullaby-like tune, one of the most frankly Romantic melodies in Hindemith’s entire output. After an extended development, however, the sequence of variations begun in the previous movement resumes with a final group of three: one gently flowing, a livelier fugato, and a coda where the folk-song-like theme has the last word.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2009

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