Record of the day: Paul Hindemith, "Quintett, Septett, Oktett"

Record of the day: Paul Hindemith, “Quintett, Septett, Oktett”

Paul Hindemith
Quintett, Septett, Oktett (Cd DG/MD+Gl3447)

Among the various giants who populated the music scene of the first fifty years of the twentieth century, Paul Hindemith is the one who
the greatest amount of critical nonsense and incorrect definitions is shot down, to the point of having completely misrepresented the importance of his production for decades. Fortunately, in recent times Hindemith’s vast work has begun to be appreciated in all its importance and magnificence and yet, still, how many absurdities can be read about this indefatigable Kappellmeister: cold, mechanical, repetitive, insensitive, “heartless”, uselessly intellectual , dry and raving: just listen to this album to make fun of these superficial judgments.

The Ensemble Villa Musica, one of the best ensembles on the European scene, turns its gaze to three unjustly neglected chamber works: silence has enveloped these scores for many years, yet the sparkling irony of the “Settimino for wind instruments” (composed in Taormina and performed for the first time in Milan in 1948) is evident from the first minutes of listening, as is Hindemite’s very solid ability to construct complex contrapuntal buildings starting from tiny cells developed with astonishing compositional virtuosity.

The continuous interweaving of lines and colors never goes to the detriment of the Mozartian lightness with which the musical architecture comes to life; we are a thousand miles away from the impetuous style of the youthful “Quintet for Clarinet and Strings”, presented here in the first version from 1923. Sharp and angular sounds of the string quartet frame shaggy figures with an incessant motor-like pace capable of leaving the clarinet breathless soloist, forced to perform instrumental evolutions to the limit of the possible, often pushed to the extreme limits of extension; only the second movement seems to want to calm the waters for a few moments, but within it there are still very strong harmonic tensions that never give the listener the sensation of rest.

The “Octet” composed in 1957-58 belongs to the most serene period of his production, where the virtuosity of writing is seen as if from afar, under the benevolent gaze of an artist who has reached full maturity and total control of his means expressive.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.