By Cristina Schreil
A new recording of three of Hindemith’s sonatas for viola and piano, by violist Geraldine Walther and pianist David Korevaar, presents an engaging survey of the German composer’s contributions to chamber music focused on viola. Hindemith—known by many for his “utility music” approach—is explored by way of three very different sonatas, presented in reverse chronological order: the first written in 1939; Op. 25, No. 4, from 1922; and then Op. 11, No. 4 from 1919. The first is what many regard as his most popular, and the first movement is an enchanting performance of the Fantasie.
It’s not the easiest music to sink into in a leisurely way, but it’s a key exploration of Hindemith, who many assert is not performed as often as he should be. The last movement in the 1922 sonata is especially energizing. There are interesting dynamic contrasts here and Walther presents a variety of textures, tackling a pleasing, feather-light galloping passage mid-movement. Walther and Korevaar gel wonderfully throughout. The illuminating album notes by Korevaar aid in interpreting moments that might not be as straightforward.
The album also acts as a rallying cry for more spotlights on the viola, which shines here with honey-rich tones and Walther’s masterful attack of the challenging works—one can hear her inhaling deeply throughout the performances. This album is a fitting choice for those wishing to explore both Hindemith and the instrument that he famously played.
Paul Hindemith Sonatas for Viola and Piano
Geraldine Walther, viola; David Korevaar, piano