Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fire, charm and charisma from Midori

October 12, 2013:


Hindemith's music has never really caught on with classical music audiences in the same way as contemporary composers like Vaughan Williams, Copland or Villa-Lobos. A few pieces are popular because they give orchestras a chance to show off their virtuosity. The Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Weber is one of these, and it plays that role on this new CD from Ondine.

Conductor Christoph Eschenbach puts the NDR SinfonieOrchester through its paces in an exciting live recording of the Metamorphoses. Though perhaps not always at the same high level as two famous live recordings by Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein, this is a satisfying version that's easy to recommend.

The Violin Concerto of 1939 is a solid, and sometimes stolid, work from Hindemith's middle period. The great violinist Midori provides charisma, fire and charm, all of which are often in short supply in Hindemith recordings, giving the piece its best advocacy on disc. One hopes that other violinists will follow her lead in performing and recording such an interesting concerto. The third piece on the CD is the Konzertmusik from 1930. When Hindemith heard Koussevitsky conduct the work in 1938 in Boston, he said 'They played it with absolute perfection.' I think he would have said the same about this excellent recording from Hamburg.

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