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In the Introduction to the score's second scene -- 'Four Dances of Wooing' -- an extended flute solo in the instrument's upper register recalls the calm beauty of the slow movement of the Stravinsky Symphony in Three Movements and Debussy's landmark solo work Syrinx (1913). 'Dance of the Child' is inflected with that dark, highly colored Russian ethos that Stravinsky mined so effectively in The Firebird. (Hindemith was clearly aware of the myriad musical influences that were sweeping Europe.) A plaintive viola solo introduces 'Dance of the Wide Robe' -- lovely music of aching sadness. (Hindemith was a true viola virtuoso and his early works are filled with imaginative writing for that dark, rich toned string instrument.) 'Dance of the Orchid in Full Bloom' introduces pianistic bravura in the manner of Ferruccio Busoni -- daunting keyboard hand crossings and endlessly rolling octaves. A romantic theme is genuinely Mahlerian -- strong and imbued with heated passion. Brass fanfares in the manner of Janácek's Sinfonietta mark the 'Dance of Brutality'. Dark viola and cello solos (in music that rises to the brink of atonality) feature prominently in 'Dance of the Beaten Animal' before the final reprise of the astringently neo-classical 'Demon's Dance'. A brightly inventive score for a chamber ensemble of ten instruments and a vivid reminder of Hindemith's mastery!

Paula Robison
Paula Robison

The superb flutist Paula Robison may be one of the best kept secrets on America's musical horizon. For three decades this patrician artist has given consistently dazzling performances of both solo works and chamber music scores. Acting as de facto leader of the ensemble for the Hindemith score, Ms Robison's stratospheric pyrotechnics were indeed brilliant. Her subtle shading, elegant phrasing, and expressive tonal colors were even more impressive. This was musicianship of the most elevated variety! The beautiful dark tone and sensitively sculptured nuances of clarinetist Alucia Scalzo (a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music) were no less impressive.

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Copyright © 22 February 2005 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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