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Decca Phase 4
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
Septet for flute; oboe; clarinet; bass clarinet; bassoon; horn
and trumpet (1948) [15:16]
Quintet for clarinet and string quartet, Op. 30 (original version 1923) [17:36]
Octet for clarinet; horn; bassoon; violin; 2 violas; cello and double bass (1957/58)
Ensemble Villa Musica
rec. 1992, Fürstliche Reitbahn, Bad Arolsen, Germany. DDD
originally released, 1993, MDG L 3447, deleted 2002
DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM GOLD MDG304 0447-2 [65:03]
MDG maintain their advocacy in the field of twentieth century
chamber music with a reissued volume of chamber works from the
German composer Paul Hindemith. Although I have a number
of Hindemith discs in my collection, mainly orchestral works,
the Kammermusik and the String Quartet No. 4 (1921),
these three scores were new to me.
The opening work is the 1948 Wind Septet cast in five movements
and scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon,
horn and trumpet. The jaunty opening movement borders on
the rumbustious but has dark undertones. It is followed by
a generally calm and relaxing Intermezzo. The playful
variations of the central movement were evocative of browsing
a gallery of L.S. Lowry industrial landscapes populated with
matchstick figures. Hindemith is down to serious business
in the weighty and determined second Intermezzo. From
0:45 the mood noticeably lightens but suggestions of tension
remain. Designed as a triple Fugue the finale returns
to the untroubled mood of the opening movement.
MDG has chosen to include Hindemith’s original 1923 account
of the five movement Clarinet Quintet, Op. 30 rather than
his later 1955 version. The opening movement from 0:00-1:01
initially gave me the impression of a Scottish reel. This
is fresh-sounding music with a strong open-air feel. The
extended second movement is languid and rather mournful.
Noticeable are the striking passages for solo clarinet and
also for the cello. The music evolves to convey a strong
sense of introspection. The central movement is brisk, energetic
and rhythmic. At 0:38-0:41 we hear what sounds like a short
Mahlerian motif. There are several other motifs of high intensity
which maintain a state of uncertainty. A central episode
of relative calm at 2:41-5:50 soon disappears. The Arioso is
especially sparse with a bleak, solitary quality. Vigorous
and frantic writing in the final movement contain snappy
humour of a chattering and fragmentary nature.
Composed in 1957/58 the final score here is the Octet for Wind
and Strings scored for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin,
two violas, cello and double-bass. The work is in five
movements with the finale divided into four sections. The Octet opens
with an arid and bleak movement of an almost astringent
quality. Hindemith develops the music in weight and intensity.
The variations of the second movement provide music of
concision with a strong propulsion bordering on the obsessive.
The central movement is bleak and desolate, evocative at
times of a frozen, tundra. Hindemith tentatively develops
the music with the bright and fresh quality of a spring
morning. I enjoyed the bustling and vital Scherzo with
its beguiling personality. The finale is divided
into four sections: a fugue and three traditional dances:
waltz; polka and gallop. Despite the labelling, I experienced
only a restrained impression rather than the true spirit
of the dance. Hindemith presents a motto theme that is
heard relentlessly throughout the movement in various guises.
Based in Mainz, Germany, Ensemble Villa Musica were formed
in 1990 not long before this recording was made. Over the
have gained an outstanding reputation. On the evidence of
their more recent releases they have maintained impeccable
standards of ensemble. In these fastidiously structured Hindemith
chamber scores I experienced their highly accomplished playing
as intellectually and technically precise. The players have
skilfully managed to wrap the sound-world of Hindemith’s
individual and often demanding harmonic palette around themselves.
this reissue the label have provided redesigned packaging.
I am unsure if the informative booklet notes are the same as
those originally provided. The MDG engineers have secured crystal
clear and well balanced sound quality.
wishing to investigate the lesser encountered music of Hindemith
should be both stimulated and entertained by this fascinating
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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