Hindemith composed more than 30 sonatas for the most diverse instruments – all of which he was capable of playing himself! This fascinating selection of works written between 1935 (when he became persona non grata in Nazi Germany) and 1948 (the brilliant Cello Sonata for Piatigorsky) is played by some of today’s finest soloists, with the guiding spirit of Alexander Melnikov at the piano. How often does one hear a sonata for Althorn? Especially one published along with a poem by the composer?
Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander delivers his first album of all ballads with 2013's Touching. Once again working with his longtime cohorts – pianist Harold Mabern, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth – Alexander has crafted a bluesy, soulful, and romantic album that, while soft in conception, is in no way smooth. Alexander is a long avowed straight-ahead jazz stylist and Touching is no exception. Here, he plays in his own no-nonsense way, often with limited embellishment on the melody lines and always with a muscular sense of rhythm and swing when soloing. What is also pleasing is that Mabern and Alexander have chosen a handful of lesser-performed songs.
As a composer of orchestral music, Alexander Scriabin is best known for his last two idiosyncratic symphonies, the Poem of Ecstasy and Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, which are essentially symphonic poems, not symphonies in the conventional sense. The Symphony No. 1 (1900) and the Symphony No. 2 (1901), however, are more recognizable as symphonies in their multiple-movement forms, and their durations are comparable to the expansive symphonies of Scriabin's contemporary, Gustav Mahler. They also share the post-Romantic tendency toward Wagnerian harmonies, rhapsodic melodies, and lush orchestration, which, in Scriabin's case, were developed to express heightened emotional states and mystical transcendence. This 2016 double SACD by Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra presents each of the symphonies on its own disc, and the high-quality multichannel sound is ideal for bringing across the subtle nuances of tone color and the shifting of dynamics that are characteristic of his style.]
A 19th-century ‘trio sonata’. Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov have already given us an acclaimed version Brahms’s First Violin Sonata, in 2007. They now complete the cycle with the other two sonatas of 1886 and 1888, and add a fascinating rarity dating from 35 years earlier: the ‘F-A-E’ Sonata, a collaborative effort by three composers in honour of the great violinist Joachim, who had to guess who had written which movement! He did so with ease, for the Scherzo is as eminently Brahmsian as the Intermezzo and Finale are Schumannesque. Alexander Melnikov will be contributing his take on a score his mother gave him that belonged to Sviatoslav Richter in September BBC Music Magazine.