Hindemith: Mathis der Maler / de Billy, Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Mathis der Maler is the central composition of Paul Hindemith’s output for music theater. The reception began with its successful premiere of a symphony of three orchestral parts from the opera, in March of 1934 in Berlin. That was still before the composer was attacked in the National-Socialist press which prompted a defense of Furtwängler’s in a newspaper article titled “The Hindemith Case”. The opera wasn’t premiered until May 1938, in Zurich, where the Hindemith’s had emigrated to, before moving on to the United States. Much as Mathis, who found his political engagement in the Peasant’s War and his calling to paint solely for the glory of God to collide with the expectation to positions himself on religious matters during the Reformation, Hindemith found himself torn between his refusal to propagate for the Nazis, his urge to follow his inner voice, and the demand that he position himself against the regime. These highly acclaimed performances from 2012 at Theater an der Wien with Opera Star Roland Koch in the title role is finally now available as an album release.
Hindemith wrote his own libretto for Mathis, an exploration of the clash between artists’ responsibility to their art and to the social and political issues of their time. The production is full of telling detail, with the climactic fourth scene depicting the Peasants’ Revolt itself, and Mathis’s vision in the sixth especially vivid. All the protagonists are portrayed with touching truthfulness too. Wolfgang Koch is the conflicted, all-too-human painter, Kurt Streit the cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg, Franz Grundheber the Protestant Riedlinger and Manuela Uhl his daughter Ursula, with whom Mathis is in love. It’s superbly conducted by Bertrand de Billy, making the most of the opera’s visionary moments, and doing his best with its occasional longueurs.
– Guardian (UK)
Catalog Number: C5450
Composer: Paul Hindemith
Conductor: Bertrand de Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble: Slovak Philharmonic Chorus, Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Adam Blažo, Andrew Owens, Ben Connor, Charles Reid, Florian Emberger, Franz Grundheber, Katerina Tretyakova, Kurt Streit, Ladislav Hallon, Ladislav Podkamenský, Magdalena Anna Hofmann, Manuela Uhl, Martin Snell, Matúš Trávniček, Oliver Ringelhahn, Raymond Very, Wolfgang Koch