Midori / Christoph Eschenbach

Hindemith: Violonkonzert; Symphonic Metamorphosis; Konzertmusik

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German composer Paul Hindemith wrote concertos for nearly every instrument in the orchestra. Here you get a concert for one of the most common instruments, the violin, along with two distinctively textured orchestral works, the giant Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by C.M. von Weber and the somewhat obscure Konzertmusik für Streichorchester und Blechbläser (Concert Music for Strings and Brass Instruments), the earliest piece on the program (it was written in 1930). All three works rely on Hindemith's serious, intricate large-scale craftsmanship, combined with the sense of instrumental writing implied by the variety of textures found in his concertos and orchestral works as a whole. The combination, which replicates that of a Chandos release with violinist Leonidas Kavakos, might make a good introduction to Hindemith. The Violin Concerto of 1939 is the standout here. Midori, with her precise, rather wiry tone and unflagging energy in the long line, is an ideal interpreter for the concerto, which is not a soloist-vs.-orchestra contest but a detailed exploration of the sounds the violin makes in combination with various groupings within the large orchestra. The Symphonic Metamorphosis have received more crackling performances than they get here from the NDR Symphony uner Christoph Eschenbach, but there is little to object to in the orchestra's performance of this difficult score, and the two-movement Konzertmusik, something of a study in strings and brass, is cleanly done. Worth the investment, especially for Midori fans; this is not her most crowd-pleasing performance, but it is indeed one of her best.

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