Lawrence Power’s revelationary series of Hindemith’s complete works for the viola continues into a third and final volume with the music for viola and orchestra. Hindemith was an internationally renowned viola player himself, and his legacy for the instrument is an inestimably important body of work. Throughout this series, Power’s searingly vivid and eloquent performances have left critics and the listening public in no doubt that the somewhat ‘difficult’ reputation of the composer is ill-deserved; that this is music full of striking melodic ideas, deep lyrical feeling and high drama.
The works recorded here include Hindemith’s only formally titled concerto for viola and full orchestra, ‘Der Schwanendreher’, based on old German folk-songs. Hindemith explained that in this concerto he saw the soloist as an itinerant fiddler who comes among convivial company and plays for them the repertoire he has learned on his travels, and like a good folk-fiddler, embellishes the melodies freely and sometimes fantastically. This whimsical idea succinctly describes the procedures of the three movements: and it is clear from the unaccompanied solo which begins the first of them that the folksongs are always given Hindemith’s personal colouring. Also included is one of Hindemith’s most celebrated works: ‘Trauermusik’, written at great speed for a BBC broadcast of his music when King George V had died the day before and funeral music had to replace the planned programme. It is a shining example of an ‘occasional composition’ that far transcends its occasion and makes a distinct contribution to the general repertoire. Closely allied in tone to the more reflective portions of the opera Mathis der Maler, it is a grave, shapely and eloquent lament, with a special quality of intimacy.
“once again [Power] projects splendidly warm and rounded tone, bringing compelling focus to these performances.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 *****
“...a prince among violists. Hindemith’s modest scoring gives the soloist ample profile, and Power executes the virtuoso flights with easy aplomb.” Financial Times, 11th February 2011 ***
“Power's affinity with Hindemith's music is as evident in these new recordings as in previous installments, his tone perfectly balanced between strength and delicacy...Hyperion's beautifully natural recording is the best yet but it is the partnership with Atheron and the BBC Scottish that makes this such a rewarding listen” Gramophone Magazine, March 2011
“Trauermusik (Funeral Music), the masterpiece here, sounds like a great Shostakovich lament, but the Konzertmusik, Kammermusik No 5 and Der Schwanendreher are packed with some of Hindemith’s most attractive inventions.” Sunday Times, 9th January 2011 ****
“The third instalment of Lawrence Power's Hyperion survey of Hindemith's works for viola is in many ways the most rewarding so far...Trauermusik is a particularly striking three-movement elegy, with David Atherton ensuring that the BBC Scottish Symphony's string textures perfectly cushion the viola's lament.” The Guardian, 6th January 2011 ****
“Lawrence Power lends poignancy to the slow movements and tremendous drive to the fast ones, and the BBC SSO under Atherton gives those machine rhythms real relish.” The Telegraph, 14th January 2011 ****
“This disc, featuring Britain’s star viola player, throbs with lyricism and displays a maligned composer’s true range...Sparks keep flying from Power’s multicoloured viola, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Atherton, is always clean and neat.” The Times, 7th January 2011