5 de Diapason
It goes without saying (but let's say it anyway) that an album of the complete recordings of Hindemith's sonatas for solo viola doesn’t have massive mainstream appeal. And yet there is so much joy in this rigorous and yet free-spirited music, made in the image of a composer whose Addams Family appearance hid a puckish spirit, not to mention a love of model railways and good eating. The four sonatas on offer here are given in reverse chronological order of composition: 1937, 1923, 1922 and 1919. It was in this last year, 1919, when the publisher Schott decided to sign the young composer of 24 on the spot: a remarkable idea, even though his editors could never keep pace with Hindemith's galloping successes.
In this first sonata, we find all the components of the master's art: formal and counter-punctual rigour, irresistible rhythms, always a dash of irony and self-mockery, and an utterly splendid sense of theme. Bach was his model, of course, at least in the structure and pattern of the discourse, although this music remained completely modern, and indeed often far ahead of its own time.
A note on the final sonata of 1937: Hindemith recorded it himself, taking a few liberties with the printed score. Viola player Ruth Killius has taken it upon herself to "restore" the original, taking some liberties of her own, following Hindemith, who loved to experiment in the spur of the moment… Killius, a disciple of Ulrich Koch and Kim Kashkashian, is a regular at – in no particular order – the Salzburg Festival, Frans Brüggen's Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, the Diapasons d’Or and the Gramophone Awards, and a regular performer of Beethoven, Elliott Carter, Isang Yun, Bruckner and Bartók; and with husband Thomas Zehetmair she founded the Zehetmair Quartet, which travels the world and plays all sorts of repertoires. © SM/Qobuz