Paul Hindemith's first instrument was the violin, and so thoroughly did he master it that he rose to become leader of the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra at the age of 19. Even if his focus soon shifted to the viola and to composing, he continued to play and to write for the violin, creating a series of works that fascinatingly mirror the various stages in the development of his musical language, from the vocabulary of late romanticism to the monumental, revivified Baroque idiom of his maturity.
In a generous selection of these works, the eminent violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, who in 2010 was awarded the international Paul Hindemith Prize of the City of Hanau, makes an eloquent case for them, from the Sonata in E flat, composed in 1918 while Hindemith was still serving in the German army on the Western Front, to the strikingly emotional Violin Concerto of 1939, written during his first year of exile from Nazi Germany. Besides the masterly Sonata in C, composed shortly before the Concerto, and the tuneful 1935 Sonata in E, Zimmermann also includes the Solo Sonata, Op.31 No.2, with its final movement a set of variations on a Mozart song. In the accompanied sonatas Zimmermann enjoys the support of a regular chamber music partner, the pianist Enrico Pace, whereas in the concerto he teams up with Paavo Järvi, another recipient of the Paul Hindemith Prize and principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Together they convey an unusually colourful, shimmering and passionate image of Paul Hindemith, in a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the composer.
'This rewarding new release is a reminder of [Hindemith's] continued close affinity with the [viola]...Virtuosity is not so much the music's aim as expressivity, yet Zimmermann plays with brilliance throughout.' BBC Music Magazine
'Such a fine production can only be greeted in the warmest possible terms. If your idea of Hindemith is one of him as a rather dry 20th century Germanic caste give this disc a try - a juicier programme of violin music would be harder to find this side of WWI.' MusicWeb International