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Viola Music Volume 1

Sonatas for Viola and Piano, Op. 11 No. 4; in C major; Op. 25 No. 4; Meditation from Nobilissima visione

Lawrence Power (viola) & Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)

Hyperion CDA 67721 [58 mins]

A valuable disc, and timely for a revaluation of Hindemith - multi-instrumentalist (in his composition classes he illustrated on every instrument) and virtuoso violist. He wrote more solo repertoire for the viola than for any other instrument, no less than seven sonatas plus other concertante works featuring his instrument.

The Sonata Op 25 No 4 (1922) is the big surprise here; a good year for him (I liked to play his daring Suite 1922 for piano) and violists should consider it for their recitals. The first movement is richly romantic, the sonata culminates with elaborate variations and his mature idiom was already developed, that period perhaps more durable than some of his later music (e.g. the Marienbeben songs are preferable in their original version).

The Meditation of 1938 peacefullly depicts St Francis of Assisi at prayer, gravely flowing and serene; a perfect encore after a strenuous recital finale.

Recommended, and the succeeding volumes keenly awaited.

Peter Grahame Woolf

The Complete Viola Music

Volume 3- Concertos

Konzertmusik, Op. 48 for viola & large chamber orchestra
Der Schwanendreher

Kammermusik No. 5 (Bratschenkonzert) Op. 36 No. 4

Lawrence Power (viola) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/David Atherton

Here is the most attractive disc in the series, bringing together diverse works with the viola (Hindemith' own instrument) as soloist.

Each is attractive in a different way, Der Schwanendreher based on old tunes perhaps the most immediately appealing.

Hindemith’s famous ‘Trauermusik’, was written to replace it in a scheduled London concert because King George V had died the previous day day. Composed overnight with an army of copyists at hand, it was premiered the same evening by Hindemith with Sir Adrian Boult and the strings of the BBCSO in a programme of suitably solemn music; an ‘occasional composition’ that has retained a worthy place in the general repertoire.

Recommended as a first choice in the series.