Download MP3 for Paul Hindemith - Konzertmusik Op. 50 (1930)

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- Composer: Paul Hindemith (16 November 1895 -- 28 December 1963)
- Orchestra: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
- Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
- Year of recording: 1989

Konzertmusik, for Brass & Strings, Op. 50, written in 1930.

00:00 - I. Mässig schnell, mit Kraft - Sehr breit, aber stets fliessend
09:42 - II. Lebhaft - Langsam - In ersten Zeitmass (lebhaft)

In the 1920s, Hindemith's musical language matured through a series of instrumental works of increasing seriousness and accomplishment, notably the seven Kammermusiken (1922-1927), and the three Konzertmusiken, Op. 48 (viola and large chamber orchestra), Op.49 (piano, brass, two harps) and Op. 50 for Brass and Strings. As the last of the series, Op. 50 was written in response to a commission from Sergey Koussevitzky for the fiftieth anniversary season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (the score notes "Geschrieben für das Bostoner Symphonie-Orchester"). Koussevitzky conducted its premiere on 3 April 1931.

- In the first movement, an emphatic unison note from the brass is answered by an upward-rushing phrase from unison strings, which launch into a brisk and rather stern chordal accompaniment for the main theme, a long-breathed, chromatic melody declaimed by unison brass, with occasional pungent harmonic underpinnings. The second theme, bracing and energetic, is stated and developed by brass alone, in virtuosic counterpoint. After a remarkable cadence featuring hieratic horn calls and a "rocket" phrase on the interval of the major third, the strings and brass reunite for further development of the second theme, with low strings repeating the opening melody underneath. After a second cadence in which string chords of stacked fourths tumble to a halt, the strings again sing the opening melody, with doleful harmonies from the brass ending the movement in a slow and melancholy mood.
- Throughout the "Jazz Age" decade, Hindemith had often employed elements of jazz in his music, usually for satiric or even sarcastic purposes. In the second movement jazz is used as an integral part of the musical rhetoric, without being disingenuous. The cross rhythms and high spirits of jazz inform the opening moments, a fast and tricky fugato for strings, against which the trumpet sounds a five-note phrase that will prove to be significant. The brass joins in the chase, and the strings launch a breezy and fast theme. A slow middle section recalls the dolorous closing bars of the first movement, though the featured arioso for trombone is more bittersweet than melancholy. The effect here is not unlike some of the theater music of Kurt Weill, though the music is closer in spirit to the jazz inflections of William Walton (for whose jazzy yet wistful Viola Concerto Hindemith had been soloist at its 1929 premiere in London). The fugato section returns, though somewhat more seriously, with blue notes now becoming an indelible part of the proceedings. There is an exciting coda, with divided strings chiming the Gershwin-esque phrase, and a quick summary of the emphatic unison notes that opened the work.