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Hindemith’s Wind Sonatas

Jed Distler

Artistic Quality:

Sound Quality:

Paul Hindemith’s wind sonatas are concise and well-crafted compositions, all typical of the classically oriented pan-tonal style that the composer crystallized from roughly the mid-1930s onward. They’re arguably more familiar to instrumentalists than to listeners, which is all the more reason for Les Vents Français to present them en masse.

The performances are as polished and refined as one would expect from these seasoned musicians, abetted by Eric Le Sage’s deft and detailed handling of the piano parts. The slightly diffuse sonics convey the perspective of a seat in the back of a small recital hall, yet I feel that the intimacy and transparency of Hindemith’s scoring better lends itself to closer microphone placement. Compare, for example, the full-bodied tone that Gilbert Audin produces in his Bassoon Sonata first movement to the quicker, leaner, and more analytically engineered Knut Sönstevold recording on BIS.

Although the Clarinet Sonata makes a crisper impact in the Ensemble Incanto’s CPO release, Paul Meyer’s effortless dexterity certainly shines here. In the Oboe Sonata’s slow movement, I can’t decide if I prefer François Leleux’s prodigious breath control or Alex Klein’s brisker pace and purity of tone on a recent Cedille release. However, Emmauel Pahud’s slightly sedate Flute Sonata outer movements yield to Sophie Cherrier’s livelier, more direct, and sonically superior interpretation on Skarbo.

Perhaps the suave interplay between Radovan Vlatkovic and Eric Le Sage in the Tenor Horn Sonata proves this release’s most rewarding collaboration, and it’s fun hearing them recite the finale’s introductory text in German. A fine collection overall, but collectors mainly interested in individual works should investigate my comparisons.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: Wind Sonatas
Reference Recording: None for this collection

Paul Hindemith: Sonatas for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Tenor Horn, with Piano

    Soloists: Emmanuel Pahud (flute); François Leleux (oboe); Paul Meyer (clarinet); Gilbert Audin (bassoon); Radovan Vlatkovic (tenor horn); Eric Le Sage (piano)

  • Orchestra: Les Vents Français

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