Paul Hindemith

Paul Hindemith Performs Hindemith

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Dutton's Paul Hindemith Performs Hindemith answers a pressing need in the classical catalog. Paul Hindemith recorded extensively as a conductor, soloist, and as chamber musician starting in the 1920s and not concluding until mere weeks before his death in late 1963. Not a lot of this material has remained available on CD for any appreciable length of time, though in 2003 Deutsche Grammophon issued his German recordings of the 1950s -- in harsh, flat, gritty sound and like that from day one -- as a set. While no one would accuse Hindemith of being the most popular composer of the twentieth century, a number of his works have managed to hang into the repertory quite well despite changing tastes; truly, they were built to last. It is hard to imagine that there would be no one interested in hearing Hindemith perform his own works, and Dutton's Paul Hindemith Performs Hindemith presents two recordings, a Mathis der Maler from 1934 with the Berlin Philharmonic and the 1939 recording of Der Schwandreher with Hindemith as soloist with Arthur Fiedler and his Sinfonietta. Hindemith himself does not perform the third work, his Violin Concerto; rather, this is a contemporary recording made within his lifetime with violinist Henry Merckel and the Orchestre de l'Association des Concerts Lamoreux under Roger Désormière. Some may regard this as cheating, given the name above the title, but it is an authoritative reading in excellent sound for the period. That is a strong part of the appeal in this collection -- the sound is terrific, particularly in the Mathis der Maler; you will think that it is a recording from the 1960s rather than the 1940s. Hindemith seemed to prefer faster tempi than are common for his work in posterity -- twenty-first century performances of his works tend to be rather languid; emphasizing his lushly colored diatonicism rather than maintaining a crisp rhythmic profile. Hindemith's own performances are often the opposite, and it is both valuable and instructive to hear them that way.

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