HINDEMITH Violin Concerto. Violin Sonatas
The benchmark recording of Hindemith’s Violin Concerto remains Oistrakh’s with the composer from 1962, now 50 years old but still sounding excellent. Other recordings have come and gone but none has shown such staying power, except Gertler’s not-much-younger account for Supraphon. Dene Olding’s (coupled with the Fourth Kammermusik) is the best of the newer issues (much securer than Guttman) but not a first choice. Frank Peter Zimmermann’s interpretation, on the other hand, is the real deal. His technique is more than adequate to the Concerto’s virtuoso challenges and his musicianship to its expressive potential. His account is also lighter in tone and swifter than either Oistrakh’s or Gertler’s, with no loss of gravity where needed.
These same attributes are evident in his readings of the four sonatas, neatly made up of one unaccompanied with three of the four with piano. Rolf Wallin set the bar for the violin sonatas (with and without piano) 18 years ago but Zimmermann makes the Swede (and Bieler in Op 31 No 2) seem almost (but not quite) heavy-footed by comparison. Tempo is the key, Zimmermann’s readings pacier without being driven or sacrificing his beautifully consonant tone. To be sure, Pöntinen has the edge over Enrico Pace in the accompaniments, though Pace is better suited to partner Zimmermann.
This is the kind of advocacy Hindemith’s music has been crying out for, caught in top-notch sound, as usual. Let’s hope this team set down Kammermusik No 4, the remaining two sonatas (Op 11 No 2 and Op 31 No 1) and the Tuttifäntchen Suite soon.