Hindemith concertos, performed with Idil Biret, mark Yale Symphony Orchestra’s first major label CD

The complete set of composer Paul Hindemith’s piano concertos — performed by the Yale Symphony Orchestra (YSO), led by Toshiyuki Shimada, and featuring acclaimed pianist Idil Biret — will be released by Naxos of America on Oct. 29. The release celebrates the ongoing creative connections across the globe and over time — both the ties of the YSO with Biret and her home country, Turkey, and the historic links of Hindemith with both Turkey and Yale.

Titled “Paul Hindemith (1895-1963): The Complete Piano Concertos,” this is the only recording currently available that presents Hindemith’s works for piano and orchestra in their entirety. This is the YSO’s first CD on the Naxos label.

Hindemith, who fled Germany in 1935 after being attacked by National Socialists, eventually settled in the United States as a professor at Yale. In between his flight from Germany and his tenure at Yale, he spent time in Turkey preparing reports for the government on establishing a conservatory, devising a plan for a national music education program, and finding places for Jewish musicians who were forced to leave Germany.

The relationship between Idil Biret and the YSO began when Biret performed with the YSO during their tour of Turkey in 2010, thanks to the work of her husband, Yale alumnus Sefik Buyukyuksel ’67. This led to a performance that reunited the orchestra with Biret in New Haven in 2012. Biret returned to New Haven last fall to complete the Hindemith recordings with the YSO in Woolsey Hall.

Also included on the recording are the composer’s Chamber Music Nos. 1 and 2. With one exception (Chamber Music No. 1, Op. 24, for small orchestra), Hindemith wrote each of his chamber music pieces for different ensembles and different soloists. His works are renown for recalling both the Baroque and the following period, but in a modern style in distinct contrast with late romanticism. The ensemble for Chamber Music No. 2 consists of 12 instruments in total: flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

Idil Biret

Biret studied piano at the Paris Conservatoire under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger, graduating at the age of 15 with three first prizes. Since the age of 16, she has performed with renowned orchestras worldwide under the baton of many distinguished conductors. Biret’s U.S. debut took place in 1963 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. Her recording of the complete piano works of Chopin received a Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin award in Poland in 1995, and the recording of the three sonatas of Boulez were honored with the Golden Diapason of the year award in France. She has over 100 CDs in the Naxos catalogue, including the complete solo piano works and concertos of Brahms and Rachmaninov, as well as all of the piano sonatas, concertos, and symphony transcriptions of Beethoven. Biret has also widely performed and recorded 20th-century music including the etudes of Ligeti, the sonata of Berg, the variations of Webern, the capriccio of Stravinsky, the piano concerto of Schönberg, and now all the piano concertos of Hindemith.  

Yale Symphony Orchestra

The YSO was founded in 1965 by a small group of Yale students who saw a need for an ensemble devoted to the performance of orchestral repertoire. Today the YSO is one of the premiere undergraduate orchestras in the United States. The group has achieved a permanent place in Yale lore with the production of its annual Halloween Show — in full costume, at midnight — to an audience of thousands at Woolsey Hall. The group has presented national and world premieres of many works, including the European premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass,” the world premiere of the definitive restoration of Charles Ives’ “Three Places in New England,” the U.S. premiere of Debussy’s “Khamma,” and the East Coast premiere of Benjamin Britten’s “The Building of the House.” The YSO has performed in Portugal, Korea, Central Europe, Italy, and most recently, Turkey. The orchestra has also toured domestically, with appearances in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Toshiyuki Shimada

Shimada has served as music director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra since 2005. He also holds the position of associate professor of conducting at the Yale School of Music and in the Department of Music. In addition, he is music director and conductor of Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in New London and music director and conductor of the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes. Since 1998 Shimada has also served as principal conductor of the Vienna Modern Masters record label in Austria. He has been a frequent guest conductor with several international orchestras, and has collaborated with many distinguished artists. He was named Ariel Musician of the Year in 2003 by Ariel Records, and received an ASCAP award in 1989. Shimada records with the Vienna Modern Masters label, and currently has 15 compact discs to his credit. His recording of Gregory Hutter’s “Skyscrapers” has been released through the Naxos label. 

Naxos of America

Naxos of America, a leading independent classical music distributor in the United States and Canada, distributes nearly 35,000 titles on CD and DVD to traditional brick and mortar retail, as well as offering a comprehensive suite of services tailored to consumer direct fulfillment. The company is also considered to be the largest digital distributor of independent classical music, supplying a catalog of over 30,000 albums to hundreds of digital download and mobile outlets worldwide.