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.
Frank Peter Zimmermann, who in 2010 was awarded the international Paul Hindemith Prize of the City of Hanau, makes a great case for these works. His Trio recently won the 2013 BBC Music Magazine Award for their Chamber recording of Beethoven’s Trio Op. 9. In the concerto Zimmermann teams up with Paavo Järvi, another recipient of the Paul Hindemith Prize and principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.
This programme features concert music by composers who also wrote film scores for Hollywood. While this was just one string to the considerable bows of Gershwin and Copland, Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman are best known for their music for Hitchcock films (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Marnie and Psycho for Herrmann; and Rebecca and The Paradine Case for Waxman). Centre stage is Gershwin’s Song-book, arranged by the composer for solo piano in order to present the songs ‘as George Gershwin plays them himself’.
"…If this imaginative mix of tenor/bass sonatas, rather than an all-cello recital, at first seems curious it works well in practice. Those already in possession of the rival accounts listed above may not want to duplicate these works further, though I would rate the present offering most highly; for those coming new to these works, start here." ~Grammophone
"Die Musiker des Ensembles Villa Musica spielen mit einer ansteckenden Begeisterung, mit der diese Werke geradezu wachsen und an musikalischer Bedeutsamkeit zu gewinnen scheinen." (FonoForum)