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Paul Hindemith: The Klaviermusik mit Orchester op. 29 for Piano Left-hand and Orchestra

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 28, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Ondine is proud to announce the first-ever commercial recording of a long-lost major work by Paul Hindemith, the Klaviermusik mit Orchester op. 29 for piano left-hand and orchestra. The New York Times has called it "a fantastic work that requires tremendous technique and stamina." Hindemith wrote this concerto for the one-armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein in 1923. Wittgenstein never performed it, and it was only upon the death of his widow, in 2002, that the piece was discovered in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania; the work received an acclaimed 2004 world premiere in Berlin, with piano legend Leon Fleisher as soloist and the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle.

Christoph Eschenbach, one of today's leading conductors, here directs the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra the Philadelphia Inquirer acclaimed, "that any city would be lucky to have as its professional ensemble." This recording also features another orchestral gem, Antonín Dvorák's popular Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World").

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Curtis Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
  • Composer: Paul Hindemith, Antonín Dvorak
  • Audio CD (April 28, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ondine
  • ASIN: B001UGIS6G
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,092 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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As a Hindemith completist, I bought this CD for the "lost" piano concerto. It is a well performed piece from his earlier dissonant period, showing hints of his sweeping mature works to come in the 1930's through the early 1950's.

The Dvorak New World Symphony is a real shocker! Eschenbach "does everything wrong", and it turns out great! Defying the traditional grand "Western European" approach to this piece (definitively rendered by George Szell and Bruno Walter), Eschenbach gives us a gentler, more pastel, and most AMERICAN interpretation (it WAS written here). I've played it for friends who are similarly surprised and impressed. Only occasionally does the definition get a little muddy (as if the conductor couldn't make up his mind whether the strings or the woodwinds should come to the front), and I've heard better brass.

Nonetheless, conducting essentially a student orchestra, Eschenbach renders a fresh and winning interpretation of this old standard. This is the twentieth recording of this piece in my collection, and it ranks very near the top!
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Please note this. Initially, I gave this product FOUR STARS. However, three years after posting the review, I realized that I had never listened to the Hindemith composition again. And so, I decided to give it another try. And so, upon listening again some three years later, that is, on August 7, 2015, I decided that the piece was unbearable to the ears. And so, I downgraded the product to TWO STARS. I downgraded it to TWO STARS, not because of the rendition or to the sound engineering, but because the composition itself was jarring and unpleasant. (This review does not comment on the Dvorak composition.)

What appears below is actually two reviews, one a recording by CURTIS INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, and the other for a recording of another Hindemith rarity, this one recorded by LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA.

PIANO CONCERTO FOR LEFT HAND (1923) by Paul Hindemith has four movements, lasting 2 minutes and 30 seconds, 3 min 10 sec, 6 min 43 sec, and 5 min 37 sec, respectively. The disc comes with a 30-page booklet. The front and rear covers feature color photographs of the conductor and pianist, with members of the orchestra surrounding the two gentlemen. Pages 6-9 have a biography of Mr. Hindemith, while pages 10-12 provide a bio of Antonin Dvorak. Then, there is a 1-page bio for each of Christoph Eschenbach (conductor) and of Leon Fleisher (pianist), which is followed by 7 pages on the Curtis Institute of Music and its orchestra.

FIRST MOVEMENT. From the first few bars, it is apparent that this is in the typical Hindemith style. This piece is not a stylistic outlier. On occasion, the first movement contains little motifs that sound like parts of MATHIS DER MALER, Hindemith's best known composition. The first movement has a moderate pace.
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