HINDEMITH Plöner Musiktag
Rudolf Döbler (flute), Maxi Kaun (clarinet), Florian Dörpholz (trumpet), Susanne Ehrhardt, Martina Feldmann, Guido Klemisch (recorders), Jugendsinfonieorchester Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Chöre und Nachwuchsorchester der Hans-Werner-Henze-Musikschule, Chöre des Tagore-Gymnasiums, Chöre des Werner-Siemens-Gymnasiums, Berlin Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Rundfunkkinderchor Berlin, Mozart-Kinderchor, Musicians of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchesters Berlin / Jobst Liebrecht.
WERGO WER 67282
Such is the scale of Hindemith’s Plöner Musiktag (‘Music Day at Plön’) that it has remained un-heard (a single German radio broadcast and part-performance in Berlin aside) for the near eight decades since its premiere in 1932, under the composer’s own baton, at the children’s camp it was composed for in the Schleswig-Holstein town of Plön in northern Germany.
In October 2008, Jobst Liebrecht returned to Plön to assemble the colossal forces needed to realize Hindemith’s massive exercise in Gebrauchsmusik (a term coined by the Czech music historian Paul Nettl in the early 1920s, its literal meaning, ‘Music for Use’, a curiously circumspect way of describing music composed with a specific social setting and function in mind.)
What resulted from the four days of music making is this first performance of the 72-minute-long work on disc, courtesy of the German contemporary music-accented WERGO label, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012. Using Liebrecht’s own elaborations on Hindemith’s original sparse scoring – notably adding accordions and guitars, bass clarinet, English horn and tuba – it glints and glows with a youthful vitality and vivacity that usefully dilutes and distracts from the contrivance of what amounts to an extended exercise in civic high-mindedness.
Composed, as was necessary given its pedagogic intent, for varying levels of instrumental and vocal accomplishment, it is structured into four self-defining parts notionally mapping out the progress of a school day: ‘Morgenmusik’ [‘Morning Music’], ‘Tafelmusik’ [‘Table Music’], ‘Kantate’ [‘Cantata’] and ‘Abendkonzert’ [‘Evening Concert’].
Liebrecht negotiates the gently shifting stylistic sands of the music with persuasive nimbleness as Hindemith moves seamlessly from
the earnest, brass fanfares that herald the new day with tentative plangency in the three-part ‘Morgenmusik,’ to the frothy, faux-baroque buoyancy of the ‘Tafelmusik’ triptych, to the curiously appealing amalgam of ingenuous sincerity, tongue-in-cheek asides and poignant melodram in the six-part ‘Kantate’.
The concluding ‘Abendkonzert’ (by far the longest section, clocking in at almost half the disc’s playing time) carries itself with a floating, festive gaiety that is enchantingly spotlit by diaphanous flutes and woodwinds, and that timeless staple of the classroom, the recorder trio – Susanne Ehrhardt, Martina Feldmann and Guido Klemisch by turns delectably light and airy and gravely contemplative.
The largely student ensemble (augmented by seven players from the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchesters Berlin) play with perfectly pitched aplomb and remarkable cohesion, Liebrecht knowing when to push
and when to pander in order to cajole and coax clearly committed and surprisingly sensitive performances. Dietrich Henschel gives a spirited account of the centerpiece baritone aria of the ‘Kantate’, ‘Ach, hätt ich, wie jetzt die Knaben’, which sets texts by the 16th-century composer and music theorist Martin Agricola.
Recorded in the accommodating acoustic of the Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin-Dahlem, the sound, by producer Karola Parry, re-captures some of the adrenalin of the earlier live performances and is framed with a ringing clarity.
Texts and an informative discussion with Liebrecht are included in