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Sonata for solo viola Op 11 No 5 [23:15]
Sonata for solo viola (1937) [17:01]
Sonata for solo viola Op 31 No 4 [18:59]
Sonata for solo viola Op 25 No 1 [15:22]
Laura Menegozzo (viola)
rec. Italy, 2015

The production values of this recording are somewhat limited, little in the way of recording details whilst the booklet and disc make it look as if this recording is a vanity project. The booklet notes are non-existent, only two one liners from Hindemith are the total extent of the text held within, while the cover - I presume it is Laura Menegozzo jumping for joy - is obviously a piece of Photoshop manipulation. The title of the disc includes Einstein’s famous equation E=mc˛ and I imagine this refers to one of the quotes used “Tonality is a natural force, like gravity.”

As to the performance, Laura Menegozzo has certainly engaged with this music with her readings being committed and forthright, if a little on the sedate side. With her recording of the four sonatas lasting over a quarter of an hour longer than both Nobuko Imai on BIS (BIS-CD-571) and Lawrence Power, my personal favourite, is for Hyperion (CDA67769). Both these recordings have a pace that accentuates the virtuosic qualities of Paul Hindemith’s writing for the instrument, which although not his first, he has become most associated with. On the other hand, this recording by Laura Menegozzo accentuates the more languid writing such as in the Lied: Ruhig, mit wenig Ausdruck: Langsame Viertel of the Sonata for solo viola Op 31 No 4. I must admit that I prefer the faster tempos of both Power and Imai to those of Menegozzo, who although she has a nice touch is just too slow at times such as in the third movement of the Sonata for solo viola Op 11 No.5 which is marked Scherzo; Schnell, where the "schnell" is lacking, 4:16 compared to the 2:55 of Power. What we gain on the slower movements is far outweighed by what we lose in the quicker passages, making this disc, enjoyable, but not enough so, so that, I am afraid, it is a non-starter.

As already mentioned, the booklet notes are non-existent, this I find detracts from the music presented as well as the performer. The recorded sound is fairly good, a bit reverberant at times which gives the recording the sense of a live performance.

Stuart Sillitoe

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