This is Paul Hindemith’s only mature cello concerto for full orchestra. (Two earlier ones are a student work and one of his Kammermusik series, for only eleven instruments.) It is a fortunate work that is well regarded, played by several leading soloists, but outside the common repertory just enough that it is not-so-often picked for performances and recordings, by those that are other than strongly committed to the concerto.
This writer’s favorite recording is by Hungarian cellist Miklos Perenyi, but as he does not own a copy of it on CD, he is quite happy with this release by David Geringas, accompanied by the Queensland (Australia) Symphony Orchestra, with Werner Andreas Albert conducting. The disc is part of Albert’s series of seemingly complete music with orchestra by Hindemith on the cpo label, a project that is highly admired.
The release, a joint production of cpo and the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) made in Brisbane in August, 1995 (supervised by Stephen Snelleman and engineered by Bob Hobson and Gary Yule), is in clear, detailed and well balanced sound. It takes only a few moments to adjust to a relatively dry acoustic.
The performance is highly assured and witty, with a strong lyrical streak in the opening of the second movement. Geringas easily copes with Hindemith’s two most difficult issues of interpretation. These are to continue playing the tarantella of the middle part of the second movement while the orchestra returns to the slow tempo of the opening part, and to continue sounding rebellious in the third until settling comfortably into the rather bourgeois march at the end of the finale. Geringas’ playing is full and rich yet pointed in sound, accurate in intonation, and understanding in interpretation (he has recorded all three concertos). A strong recommendation.