How many works by Hindemith can you name? This is the question underpinning the opening note written by the artists on this release, as it would appear that this composer – undoubtedly one of the 20th century’s most famous – in fact wrote ‘the least famous music of the 20th century’. Jill and Eliot Lawson have therefore taken it upon themselves to try and go a little way towards changing this premise; through presenting the complete sonatas for violin and piano of Paul Hindemith, they hope to reveal the ‘magic’ of one of music history’s most original voices.
The first half of the release is dedicated to the sonatas Op.11, works that were devised as early as 1917 – by which time Hindemith, first and foremost a violinist, was already a master of his instrument. While No.1 is largely atonal and bears the influences of Debussy (one of the composer’s greatest idols at the time), No.2 has vaster proportions and more obviously refers to the late German Romanticism of Reger, Strauss and Korngold. Fast-forward 15 years and we come to the final two sonatas – works that reveal a unique blend combining years of experimentation and artistic development with elegance, confidence and ease. Premiered in 1936, the Sonata in E major was composed during a time of great personal duress following the Nazis’ attack of the composer in the press. It marks the first in a series in which Hindemith set out to write a sonata for every instrument; the C major sonata, dating from the composer’s exile in Switzerland, also features in what amounts to a 26-strong collection of veritable instrumental portraits.
Both leading instrumentalists in their respective fields, brother-and-sister duo Eliot (violin) and Jill (piano) Lawson give consummate performances. The sonatas were rather fittingly recorded in 2013, the 50th anniversary year of the composer’s death.
- Recorded 7, 8 & 10 August, Studio 1 at Flagey, Brussels.
- The Hindemith-year 2013 saw many excellent and valuable new recordings of his works, and this release adds another tribute to this intriguing German composer.
- The violin sonatas span the composer’s lifetime, and offer a clear overview of his stylistic development, from the early influences of the German Late Romantics Reger and Richard Strauss to his experiments with jazz, polytonality and atonality, and his own adaptations of Baroque and Classical elements: an eclectic, highly personal style, brimming with energy, passion and wit.
- Excellent performances by Jill and Eliot Lawson, a “Wonderful violinist and a very fine young musician” (Lorin Maazel).
- Contains detailed notes on the music and artist biographies.