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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: 14 minutes 16 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, Op 25 No 4
composer
1922; first performed by Hindemith in January 1923; not published by the composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonata Op 25 No 4 for viola and piano, composed in 1922, is technically still an ‘early’ work, yet every bar, at least of the first two movements, is echt Hindemith. In the meantime he had leapt to prominence in the European avant-garde with a scandalous trilogy of short operas dealing with eroticism from different perspectives, and had then almost immediately renounced their sensationalist style for a new ‘objectivity’ owing much to the Baroque composers. Unlike the F major Sonata’s virtual continuum of development from one movement to the next, therefore, the new sonata’s movements are highly contrasted and defined: this is an altogether tauter construction, in the leaner, rhythmically highly directed idiom that had rapidly evolved in the intervening years. The piano plays an unusually prominent role, opening the first movement with an extended solo of its own before the viola joins it for a driven Allegro with a gentler, but hardly much more peaceful, second subject.

The evaporation of this energy into the sudden understatement of the coda is all the more unexpected—as is the eloquence of the slow movement, a kind of impassioned monologue for the viola against tolling piano chords: sometimes bell-like, sometimes like a chorale. The finale bursts in with brusquely percussive gestures in both instruments, developing into a determined and exhilarating moto perpetuo. This is imbued apparently (and for Hindemith unusually) with extended references to Eastern European music. One feels his contact at contemporary music festivals with the brilliant chamber works of Kodály and Bartók had temporarily rubbed off on him. Perhaps he realized this, for the movement is virtually unique in his output; it may be why he allowed this—in every other respect magnificent—sonata, alone of the Op 25 group, to languish unpublished during his lifetime after he gave the first performance in January 1923.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2009

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