Hindemith Sonatas, Vol. 7
This is the first disc in Dabringhaus und Grimm’s Hindemith sonata series that I have encountered, though I do know several of their issues devoted to his chamber and vocal works. Common to all is the participation of the Ensemble Villa Musica who prove themselves convincing exponents of this music, of which individually and collectively they seem to have an inborn understanding. Their sensitivity to an output all too often in the past delivered in a manner devoid of tonal beauty is most welcome (the Double-Bass Sonata is a good example, beautifully played here), and is matched by admirably natural and clean sound.
This would make the present release worthy even if the performances were merely adequate, but in fact they are all very good. Cellist Martin Ostertag has the lion’s share of the solo work, occupying roughly half of the disc. He clearly has the measure of the style, and the edge over Berger in structural grasp. Much the same applies to tuba player Walter Hilgers, who strikes me as marginally preferable to either of his rivals; the piano in the BIS recording also sounds rather brittle. In the Trombone Sonata, Slokar and Lindberg lead the way, but the former is better balanced (compare the very opening bars). Through all these works, Kalle Randalu here proves a most nimble-figured accompanist; if not perhaps matching Gould’s mercurial genius, neither is he as wayward.
If this imaginative mix of tenor/bass sonatas, rather than an all-cello recital, at first seems curious it works well in practice. Those already in possession of the rival accounts listed above may not want to duplicate these works further, though I would rate the present offering most highly; for those coming new to these works, start here.'