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Hyperion Records

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Lightning across glass building by Lincoln Seligman (b1950)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67769
Recording details: April 2009
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2010
Total duration: 13 minutes 23 seconds

'Power's warmly rounded tone and searching interpretations cast the most favourable possible light on this wonderful if sometimes astringent music … though such fine players as Nobuko Imai and Kim Kashkashian have made important Hindemith discs, Power's series—soon to progress into a third and final volume with the works for viola and orchestra—is the most comprehensive and satisfying' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Power's performances—characterised by his trademark tonal richness and easy, almost nonchalant technical brilliance—leave no doubt about the weighty seriousness of the music, and its significance for Hindemith' (The Guardian)

'Aided and abetted by Hyperion's close, lifelike recording quality, Power gives an absolutely stunning demonstration of viola playing, with no concessions to Hindemith's daunting demands' (The Strad)

'Paul Hindemith, himself a major viola player, left one of the most important of 20th-century legacies for his own instrument, including the four solo sonatas recorded here. They make a protean collection … Op 25 No 1, written in 1922 when Hindemith was at his most radical, includes a movement marked 'Wild. Tonal beauty is of minor importance.' Lawrence Power easily encompasses the many moods. He has a giant sound at his command – he can make the instrument sound as if it’s being played by a man striding with seven league boots—and he makes every moment gripping' (The Irish Times)

'L'équilibre trouvé par l'altiste Lawrence Power … est tout simplement parfait. Paul Hindemith gagne beaucoup à être fréquenté par de tels talents' (Classica, France)

Sonata for solo viola
completed on 21 April 1937 and first performed by Hindemith the same day at rh Chicago Arts Club

Lebhafte Halbe  [3'34]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
By April 1937, when Hindemith wrote his final Sonata for unaccompanied viola, he was virtually exiled from Germany by the Nazis and living the life of an itinerant composer-performer, though he had not quite taken the final decision to leave Germany for good: that would happen the following year. The sonata was dashed down on a train journey from New York to Chicago, and finished on 21 April, the day he premiered it at the Chicago Arts Club. By now his language had become more warmly emotional, even romantic again, and in contrast to the chromaticism of the two preceding sonatas there is an emphasis on bright intervals, notably the perfect fourth and fifth.

Despite the anxious times in which it was composed, this sonata is in fact the most direct and lyrical of the series, and its three movements (with central hints of a fourth and fifth) provide the most balanced formal design. Nevertheless a virtuosity rooted in Hindemith’s profound knowledge of the instrument is everywhere apparent, as in the alternately pugnacious and tender opening movement. In the central movement, meditative and deeply philosophical polyphony encloses a vigorous scherzo section which flows into a capricious episode of strumming pizzicato, a complete contrast in sonority and texture before the slow music returns. The finale, in moderate tempo, contrasts serious and formally grave music, almost like impassioned oratory, with a quieter, more reflective central episode. The music rises to a peak of eloquence just before the laconic close.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2010

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