The three orchestral scores gathered here are certainly among Paul Hindemith’s most well-loved works If his style in the 1920’s at times had struck listeners as sparse and utilitarian, in Mathis der Maler (from 1934) the musical language is more dramatic and more lyrically approachable than some of his earlier works, as well as more concerned with colour and light.
Some years later the frescoes on the life of St Francis of Assisi by another Renaissance painter, Giotto, became the inspiration for Nobilissima Visione.
In the final work on this disc, the musical quotes are more overt – and less distant in time. In the Symphonic Metamorphosis – probably his most often performed orchestral work today – Hindemith uses themes by Carl Maria von Weber, but treats them entirely in his own mature manner, producing a largely good-humoured orchestral showpiece.
The various qualities in these scores are brought out with typical the flair by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and John Neschling. The team's numerous recordings of Villa-Lobos have met with universal acclaim, and their recently released disc of music by Respighi was called 'the best Roman Trilogy of recent times' in Classic FM Magazine.
“This recording bears out the judgment that this orchestra is one to watch, but it’s not a complete triumph. The sound has clarity but not much body – while the perky counterpoint in Nobilissima Visione comes over well, the weighty music in Mathis der Maler seems unengaging.” The Telegraph, 21st July 2011 ***
“very finely judged and carefully detailed performances...especially in the reflective sections of Mathis de Maler and Nobilissima Visione, which have a real radiance. Ideally, the Weber elaborations need a bit more brilliance than they get here, but otherwise these performances of music that is distinctly unfashionable at present can be thoroughly recommended.” The Guardian, 4th August 2011 ****
“Neschling, a Brazilian with a European career, inspires the Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra to first-rate performances.” Financial Times, 10th September 2011 ****
“his sparkling account of the Nobilissima suite is as good as any committed to disc recently...There is a palpable sense of delight in the playing of São Paulo SO, especially from the winds. Yet the string body has its moments too, for example in the central span's "Pastoral" section...The orchestra audibly had fun in the Symphonic Metamorphoses, where once again this newcomer holds its own on interpretative and sonic grounds” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2011
“Neschling and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra relish the half-chance to swing, and this is a contented, light-on-its-feet performance. I can't help but feel that Mathis der Maler gets boggeed down by Neschling's tendency to self-consciouly deliberate over already sober music. But Nobilissima Visione is as good as any around; dramatically aware, orchestrally robust.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2012 ****