Born in Germany in 1953, Hartmut Lindemann studied with Rainer Moog, Max Rostál, and Sándor Végh (among others) before emigrating to Australia. He's worked in a number of orchestras in Europe and Australia; but in 1989, he decided to trade in his position as an orchestral violist for a career as a soloist. This recital marks his recording debut.
It's a strong one, too. His technique is imposing: the Bach-Kodály, for instance, is remarkable not only for its resilient lines, but also for the keen focus of its rapid passagework; and as the whimsical brilliance of his Hubay makes clear, he's capable of throwing sparks from an instrument that can easily turn dour. But for the most part, these are not self-consciously virtuosic readings. The notes point to the influence of turn-of-the-century Romantic string players on Lindemann's performance style—and there's no doubt that his tonal magic and his gently rhapsodic spontaneity often hark back to an earlier era.
There are, to be sure, drawbacks as well. His playing is not invariably flexible: the Kreisler Praeludium and some of the variations in the Paganini sonata move stiffly; the Vieuxtemps seems forced. Then, too, pulling down violin music for the viola can be tricky: for all his sensitivity to the honeyed repose of the Delius, for instance, the viola sometimes thickens the weave. Herzfeld accompanies impersonally, as well: this is an exhibition of the violist rather than a true duo recital. Still, whatever the weaknesses, they're outnumbered by Lindemann's virtues, and I look forward to hearing him take on more sustained repertoire. Microphone setup and recording locale vary, according to the nature of the music—and whether you find the shifts in acoustic diverting or merely distracting, the quality of the sound at any given moment is invariably immediate and realistic. If the repertoire appeals, by all means give this disc a try.Peter J. Rabinowitz