This month's new release from Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra has been a long labour of love. One of Hindemith's forgotten gems is now revived by one of America's leading music directors. Nobilissima Visione, Hindemith's attractive, moving and majestic ballet score based on the life of St Francis of Assisi, is usually performed abridged in the composer's 3-movement concert suite. This new disc, however, is a recording of the complete score. Its coupling with the earlier 1927 Suite for Strings - an attractive, short work which Hindemith wrote primarily as a teaching aid - makes this special release a real treat for music and ballet lovers alike.
A series of powerful, largely radical works in the early 1920s saw Hindemith established as Germany’s leading young composer. In 1936 he was asked by choreographer and dancer Léonide Massine to collaborate on a ballet project, and Hindemith proposed scenes from the life of St Francis of Assisi. The resulting ballet, Nobilissima Visione (The Noblest Vision), is a work of lyricism, elegy and majesty. The Five Pieces for String Orchestra is an earlier, spirited work dating from 1927.
“I remember the first time I played Hindemith's Nobilissima Visione, as the substitute first trumpet of the Brooklyn Philharmonic when I was still a teenager. I will never forget hearing that great passacaglia for the first time and thinking what a great master he was. My early career centered around conducting chamber orchestras in New York and Los Angeles. As I was looking to program his Four Temperaments and his Hérodiade, I came across a notation of the Nobilissima Visione as a complete ballet. I hadn't realized that the suite I had often conducted came from a much longer work for small orchestra, originally choreographed by Leonide Massine.
It was only with some difficulty that I was able to find the full score of Nobilissima Visione and was completely enthralled. While so many ballet scores had filler for stage changes or action, Hindemith's was a masterpiece from beginning to end.
I am so happy and grateful to Naxos for releasing this performance of the compete score of Noblissima Visione.”
- Gerard Schwarz
Listen to an extract from Hindemith's Nobilissima Visione: Festmusik
"…characterful, spirited and enchanting."
– Classical Candor
Gerard Schwarz and The All Star Orchestra DVDs
"The performances are uniformly excellent. The musicianship on display is always good, at times astonishing. …every work here is performed with precision and just electrified energy."
– Audiophile Audition