Lawrence Power, Britain’s acknowledged greatest living viola player, continues his fascinating and acclaimed series of Hindemith’s complete viola music. This second disc features Hindemith’s solo viola sonatas. These works were all written for Hindemith himself to perform, and are thus are of special significance—as near to a personal testament, an intimate soliloquy, as exists in his multifarious and genre-spanning output.
The shadow of Bach lies over any composer writing a solo string sonata, and this is clear in the Passacaglia Op 11 No 5 Sonata, where Hindemith’s ultimate model is unmistakably the famous D minor Chaconne from Bach’s second violin partita—but viewed through a post-Brahmsian sense of sonority and architecture that produces a truly contemporary result. This ardent (and arduous) movement, a most impressive compositional feat, is the first example of a form which was to be one of Hindemith’s trademarks throughout his career, and it makes the Sonata something of a personal manifesto of artistic ambition. In later sonatas the severity of Hindemith’s mature style becomes evident—but harnessed, here, to the extraordinary virtuosity of the composer-performer, it gives rise to the most exhilarating and eloquent music.
Power's warmly rounded tone and searching interpretations cast the most favourable possible light on this wonderful if sometimes astringent music...few players can make this music more compelling than does Power. BBC *****
His prodigious technical ability - ideally suited to this repertoire - [is] allied to real musicianship in pieces which, for all their complexities, should sound grateful to play and hear...Power's firm line and clear tone, aided by Hyperion's superb recording, are splendid. Gramophone