Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
Drei leichte Stücke for Cello and Piano
Quintet for Clarinet, two Violins, Viola and Cello
Spectrum Concerts Berlin [Annette von Hehn & Elisabeth Glass (violins), Hartmut Rohde (viola), Frank Dodge (cello), Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer (clarinet) and Ya-Fei Chuang (piano)]
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: November 2009
CD No: NAXOS 8.572213
Duration: 73 minutes
It’s always good to encounter the music of Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), a significant and influential composer who once had a ‘bad boy’ reputation but who seems now to be thought of as dry, ‘text-book’ creator, which is both inaccurate and misleading.
This splendid Naxos release includes excellent performances of music that is entirely worth getting to know. The Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano enjoys lyrical, slightly melancholic, lines contrasted with rhythmically infectious passages (including attractive insect-like buzzes from the clarinet) followed by a wistful slow movement; hardly the work of an academic. With a distinctive and a lengthy finale of unfailing expressive and intense import, this nearly half-hour piece proves to be substantial in not only form but also content.
The four-movement Clarinet Sonata also engages at a meaningful level – confiding and contrasted, the sly wit of the second movement followed by a sad slow movement and, then, a puckish finale. The three cello pieces sound joys to play, very inviting, and certainly a pleasure to listen to. The 1955 Quintet (the other pieces are from 1938/39) include a sinewy and active opening movement, an introspective second and a folksy (in an abstruse sense) finale to crown a diverting work and round-off a very recommendable release.