The powerfully violent imagery of the Isenheim Altarpiece by Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald and specifically the story of that artist’s struggles for freedom of expression during the turmoil of the Peasants’ War of 1524-1525 paralleled composer Paul Hindemith’s own struggles as the Nazis repressed his 1935 opera Mathis der Maler with its expressions of disdain for any and all forms of censorship.
Absurdly labeled pro-Jewish and entarte (degenerate) Hindemith’s works could not find an artistic venue in his home country, forcing him to seek greener pastures in German-speaking, neutral Switzerland, where his Mathis der Maler had its world premiere in 1938 in Zurich.
Early in his career Hindemith dabbled in Expressionism, a time from which come his early career operas Sancta Susanna and Nusch-Nuschi. As Hindemith matured he developed his own compositional aesthetic, which he termed Objectivism, its largely tonal language a departure from the atonality of his earlier works.
In the Naxos-Classics album of Hindemith works, the ever curious, always incisive Marin Alsop leads the Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien in idiomatic performances of vocal and instrumental selections from Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Sancta Susanna and Nusch-Nuschi.
Rafael de Acha ALL ABOUT THE ARTS