“The Strad Recommends”, The Strad
Norman Lebrecht: Album of the Week
“This is a delightful CD from a rising cellist and a rising orchestra… the sound of both orchestra and hall are to die for. Kindly do not! But do listen…” Fanfare
Paul Hindemith and William Walton enjoyed a long friendship, and just a few months before Hindemith’s death in 1963 Walton celebrated the association with his orchestral Variations on a Theme of Hindemith, based on the principal theme of the slow movement of Hindemith’s Cello Concerto. That particular work also links the two composers in another way, as it was written for Gregor Piatigorsky, who fifteen years later would commission Walton to compose his Cello Concerto. Both works are expansive three-movement pieces, employing large forces – which in the case of Walton’s concerto memorably include a vibraphone, while Hindemith in his Finale gives the celesta an important role. The taxing solo parts are performed by the Swiss cellist Christian Poltéra, who has proved himself on several releases on BIS; his recording of the cello concertos by Lutosławski and Dutilleux was included in the 2011 Penguin Guide to the 1000 Finest Classical Recordings as well as on the prestigious ‘Bestenliste’ of the German Record Critics' Award Association. He is supported by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP), widely acclaimed for its recordings of the music of Villa-Lobos, and for a performance, conducted by Frank Shipway, of Richard Strauss’ Alpensymfonie nominated to a 2014 BBC Music Magazine Award. As a contrast to these two powerful mid-century scores, Christian Poltéra also performs solo works by the two composers, and in doing so expands the time range of the disc considerably. Hindemith composed his Sonata for Solo Cello in 1922-23, at a time when one of his concerns was to integrate Baroque principles of craftsmanship and usefulness into modern music. Walton’s Passacaglia, on the other hand, was one of the composer’s last works, composed in 1979–80 and of an intimate, almost meditative character.