Thursday, March 15, 2018

More Hindemith Trios

This may well be the first time on this blog that I have offered the same work in consecutive posts, or even featured the same composer. But Nick's recent postings, at Grumpy's Classics Cave, of Mozart and Beethoven string trios played by the Pougnet-Riddle-Pini trio reminded me that I had their valuable coupling of the two Hindemith trios in its third Westminster incarnation, as part of their "Collectors' Series", a mid-60s reissue series derived from monaural chamber music recordings of a decade earlier (and, thankfully, not "updated" with fake stereo trickery):

Hindemith: Two String Trios (No. 1, Op. 34; No. 2, 1933)
Jean Pougnet, violin; Frederick Riddle, viola; Anthony Pini, cello
Recorded in the autumn of 1954
Westminster W-9067, one LP record
Link (FLAC files, 110.32 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 72.90 MB)

I am indebted to Nick, not only for inspiring this post, but also for rendering practical service in eliminating the results of an awful gouge in the vinyl on the first side, affecting the first minute or so of the Op. 34 trio.

While I was working on the above transfer, it occurred to me that if I transferred one more LP, I could have available on this blog all the recordings of Hindemith's string trios to be made before the advent of digital recording (including the ones the composer participated in). I am not aware of any other recording of No. 2 besides the one I posted last month, but of No. 1, besides the incomplete one by the Amar-Hindemith Trio, a stereo LP version was made in 1968 by three young German musicians, coupled with the first recording, by a different ensemble, of Hindemith's Op. 16 string quartet:

Hindemith: String Trio No. 1, Op. 34
Rainer Kussmaul, violin; Jürgen Kussmaul, viola; Jürgen Wolf, cello
Hindemith: String Quartet No. 3 (old No. 2) in C, Op. 16
Schäffer Quartet (Schäffer-Szabados-Pill-Racz)
Recorded in the summer of 1968
Musical Heritage Society OR-H-297, one stereo LP record
Link (FLAC files, 239.37 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 85.52 MB)

This recording was made by an independent German recording company, Da Camera, in Heidelberg, and was part of a 9-disc retrospective of Hindemith's chamber music. In Germany the series was published as a box set, whereas in the USA each record was obtainable separately. Of the three musicians playing the Op. 34 trio, only one is still with us: Jürgen Kussmaul, born in 1944, was two years older than brother Rainer, who departed this life only last year. The cellist, Jürgen Wolf, was born in 1938 and died in 2014. Their playing of Op. 34 contrasts markedly with that the Pougnet ensemble; the latter really dig into the music while the Germans are more careful and always beautiful-sounding. The Pougnet's approach is much closer to the Amar-Hindemith's in the two movements where direct comparisons are possible.