Hans Kindler, born to German parents, made his cello début at the age of ten and studied under Jean Gerardy and Pablo Casals in Rotterdam. In 1910 he established himself as a soloist, performing with the Berlin Philharmonic, but moved to the USA in 1914 to further his career, joining the Philadelphia Orchestra and being made principal cello by Stokowski in 1916. Here he participated in several premières, including works by Ravel, Schoenberg and Busoni (who dedicated his arrangement for cello and piano of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue to Kindler) and himself gave the première of Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo. Kindler thus established a very solid reputation, recording with Victor in 1916 under the acoustic process and with Decca in 1929 using the new electric methods. In 1927, however, he made his conducting début, setting a new course which dominated the remainder of his relatively short life. His National Symphony Orchestra (Washington DC), successful despite the economic depression, toured frequently across the USA. With this orchestra Kindler introduced a significant number of new works to American audiences, also making première US recordings of William Schuman’s American Festival Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3.
On record Kindler’s playing is in many ways typical of the time. During the early years of the twentieth century, identifiably different schools of string playing (often grouped around the Franco-Belgian and German schools respectively) were beginning to become less clearly defined. By the late 1920s, the foundations of a more or less unified, international style of playing, characterised by continuous and conspicuous vibrato, relatively stable tempi and a gradual abandonment of the portamento, were already in place for many younger figures. Kindler’s 1935 performance of the Valentini (arr. Piatti) Sonata begins to hint at these characteristics: portamenti are moderate, vibrato frequent if quite discreet, and there is a clear-cut and well-accented approach to articulation. The acoustic recordings here suggest an earlier aesthetic. Vibrato is even more discreet, whilst prominent portamenti in the Saint-Saëns and Rubinstein (1916) are standard practice for that time. The Popper (1917), however, demonstrates Kindler’s technical fleetness and testifies to a distinguished and important career as one of the foremost players of his generation.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)