Hindemith: Mathis der Maler / Young, Hamburg Philharmonic

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The first new opera production under the baton of Simone Young, director of the Hamburg State Opera and GMD of the Philharmonic State Orchestra, was...

The first new opera production under the baton of Simone Young, director of the Hamburg State Opera and GMD of the Philharmonic State Orchestra, was a triumph. Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler requires a large opera house to use all of its resources; this is why it is very seldom staged.

This significant Hindemith opera is a rarity in CD catalogs as well – in contrast to the many available recordings of the “Mathis” symphony. OehmsClassics now releases a new complete recording, a live recording of the highly celebrated Hamburg premiere from September 25, 2005 with Falk Struckmann as Mathis.


Seventy years after its premiere, Mathis der Maler finally emerges here as one of the great operas of the 20th century. Wholeheartedly recommended to all!

Mathis is Matthias Grünewald, one of several names used by the painter of the Isenheim Altarpiece, but the opera is only incidentally about his painting. Rather it is about the artist’s place in, and conflicts with, a troubled society, subject matter that made it anathema to Nazi Germany (it was eventually premiered in Zurich in 1938). Mathis, at first content with his life as a painter, is drawn into the bloody Peasants’ War (1524–1526) between the common people and the nobility, for which Martin Luther’s challenge to the Catholic Church was also a driving force. After witnessing the horrific effects of war and gross inhumanity on both sides, the old painter withdraws completely from the world (seldom has such a vast, complex plot been so over-simplified). Other major figures are Hans Schwalb, the leader of the rebels, Albrecht von Brandenburg, a surprisingly freethinking Cardinal who employs Mathis, and Ursula, who loves him. This potentially tendentious opera is rescued by its wonderful music, Hindemith at his absolute peak. The climactic scene is a vocal/choral version of The Temptation of St. Anthony , the finale of the Symphony “Mathis der Maler,” and almost everything in the opera rises to a similar level.

...the Oehms [recording] boils along, teeming with life...the Hamburg Philharmonic is magnificent, realizing all of the music in a way that the Bavarians never did. The music and the drama are so powerful, so engrossing, that this listener was unaware of time passing. Getting up to change to CD 3, I thought, “Didn’t I just begin CD 2?” But the booklet insists that 67 minutes had passed. Kudos to Simone Young, general manager of the Hamburg State Opera and music director of the Hamburg Philharmonic!

The Oehms recording is worthy of this performance; everything is heard clearly, even in multi-voiced tutti passages. Producer Dirk Lüdemann and sound engineer Dominik Blech deserve star billing as well.

-- Fanfare

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 30, 2007

  • UPC: 812864018158

  • Catalog Number: OC908

  • Label: Oehms Classics

  • Number of Discs: 3

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Paul Hindemith

  • Conductor: Simone Young

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Hamburg State Opera Chorus, Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Performer: Carsten Wittmoser, Falk Struckmann, Harald Stamm, Ho-Yoon Chung, Inga Kalna, Jürgen Sacher, Moritz Gogg, Pår Lindskog, Peter Galliard, Renate Spingler, Scott MacAllister, Susan Anthony


  1. Mathis der Maler

    Composer: Paul Hindemith

    Ensemble: Hamburg Philharmonic

    Performer: Peter Galliard (Tenor), Renate Spingler (Mezzo-soprano), Falk Struckmann (Bass-baritone), Carsten Wittmoser (Bass), Ho-Yoon Chung (Tenor), Inga Kalna (Soprano), Moritz Gogg (Bass), Pär Lindskog (Tenor), Scott MacAllister (Tenor), Jürgen Sacher (Tenor), Susan Anthony (Soprano), Harald Stamm (Bass)

    Conductor: Simone Young