The late Hans Keller regarded Hindemith as one of the few composers able to produce what he called 'intrinsic' quartets, that's to say quartets addressed in the first place to the player (the listener being, as Keller put it, "a more or less welcome eavesdropper"). This collection includes the recently re-discovered early work in C major. The performances are technically and musically excellent. As a previous reviewer has noted, there is much to be said for listening to them in the order in which they were composed, so as to follow the development of Hindemith's style over a period of three decades.
The ensemble London Winds, praised by BBC Music for its 'technical accomplishment, expressive commitment and warmth of timbre', presents in this recording great twentieth-century works for winds. It features music by Hindemith, Nielsen, and Janáček, and, from the next generation, Barber and Ligeti. Although not equally prolific (Kleine Kammermusik is Hindemith's single contribution to that genre while winds are generally more prominence in Nielsen's music), all these composers brought the wind repertoire back to prominence, after a quiet period of more than a century. The music is full of playfulness and European folk colours.
Hindemith composed more than 30 sonatas for the most diverse instruments – all of which he was capable of playing himself! This fascinating selection of works written between 1935 (when he became persona non grata in Nazi Germany) and 1948 (the brilliant Cello Sonata for Piatigorsky) is played by some of today’s finest soloists, with the guiding spirit of Alexander Melnikov at the piano. How often does one hear a sonata for Althorn? Especially one published along with a poem by the composer?
An all-too-rare new recording from Polyphony and Stephen Layton presents highlights from the choral repertoire by four twentieth-century American giants: Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Randall Thompson. Framed by Thompson’s understated favourites Alleluia and Fare Well, the programme includes Bernstein’s Missa brevis, Copland’s early set of four motets, and—of course—Barber’s inimitable Agnus Dei.