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Friday, January 16, 2015

Hindemith, Sonatas for..., Alexander Melnikov, Isabelle Faust, etc.

Hindemith's sonatas for piano and diverse instruments are one of the joys of 2oth century modern music. He wrote more than 30, covering the period between 1935 and 1948. Some of the best and also some of the rarest are lovingly performed by pianist Alexander Melnikov and select soloists on the newly released Sonatas for... (Harmonia Mundi 905271).

We get his "Sonata for Althorn and Piano," which is good but not often performed. (Hindemith for musical recreation played the instrument himself with his wife at the piano.) It is a sort of horizontalized brass instrument that sounds something like a baritone or French horn. We get five sonatas in all, for althorn, cello, trombone, violin and trumpet.

Alexander Melinkov is the constant at the piano. He plays with the dexterity and verve of a master, with a real feel for the spirit of the music and at times a virtuosity that is remarkably fleet and dynamically alive. Isabelle Faust (violin), Teunis van der Zwart (althorn), Alexander Rudin (cello), Gerard Costes (trombone), Jeroen Berwaerts (trumpet) all turn in rather marvelous performances.

I've lived with these works (save the one for althorn) for many years in various versions and I must say that these with Melnikov are some of the very finest I've heard, perhaps the finest of them all.

The music comes very much to us with all the enthusiasm and spirit you could ask for. This is stirringly beautiful music and you will find it very difficult to top this recording of them!

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