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Hyperion Records

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Trapeze Artists in Blue (1914) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA68014
Recording details: November 2012
Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: November 2013
Total duration: 9 minutes 28 seconds

'The finale of the D major sonata is a real treat, especially in Tanja Becker-Bender's superb account … the final C major is one of the jewels in Hindemith's sonata crown and draws superb playing from Becker-Bender and Nagy. Indeed, they are superb throughout' (Gramophone) » More

'The E flat Sonata opens with arresting gestures designed to let the performers show off, which Tanja Becker-Bender and Péter Nagy seize with relish. They give generally spacious readings of all four Sonatas … Hyperion’s team is rewarding in the large-scale challenges of the D major Sonata, and attuned to the sonatina-like scale of the E major work. A transcription of the Meditation from Hindemith’s ballet Nobilissima visione bears testimony to the composer’s pacifism' (BBC Music Magazine) » More

'These new performances prove to be everything that one would wish for in these taxing and often elusive works … a valuable release' (International Record Review) » More

'Tanja Becker-Bender and Péter Nagy are well matched and give thoroughly forthright performances of real integrity, vitality and intelligence. The sound engineers have excelled themselves providing satisfyingly clear and well balanced sonics. For those looking for something away from the mainstream but accessible and of high quality this set of Hindemith violin sonatas fits the bill' (MusicWeb International)

'Overall these are insightful and communicative performances, flouting the notion that Hindemith’s music lacks emotion or energy. In fact, the opposite is altogether truer! These readings are complemented by an extremely informative booklet note from Malcolm MacDonald that helpfully places the music in a political context—which with Hindemith is doubly important' (

'Eine der schönsten Platten, die anlässlich des 50. Todestag von Hindemith den Weg in meinen CD-Player gefunden haben' (, Germany) » More

Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op 11 No 1

Frisch  [4'08]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op 11 No 1, is the first of a group of six stringed-instrument sonatas which Hindemith began in 1918, while still serving in the German army on the Western Front, and published together as his opus 11. At that time it was an almost unheard-of gesture to group together so many works as subdivisions of a single opus, and it indicated Hindemith’s desire to put away Romantic attitudes, such as the idea that every composition was a complete and utterly separate work of art. Admittedly Brahms and Reger had sometimes published chamber works in pairs, but by encompassing such a large number of fair-sized works Hindemith was going back to the examples of Haydn or even J S Bach, providing a collection from which performers might choose. Collectively these sonatas are a fascinating crop of works that seem to chronicle the transition from the familiar sounds of late nineteenth-century Romantic music to something at once spicier and more objective.

The E flat major Sonata was included in the first-ever concert devoted entirely to Hindemith’s music, given in Frankfurt on 2 June 1919: a decisive event in his career, since it led to a contract with the Mainz-based publishing house of Schott, who would remain his principal publishers for the rest of his life. On that occasion Hindemith was the violinist, with his close friend Emma Lübbecke-Job at the piano. Hindemith originally thought of the work as a Sonatina; he sketched a third movement for it which he did not bother to complete, apparently feeling the two finished movements already created a satisfactory form.

The first movement is a lively affair, rhythmically driven in its outer sections, with a more lyrical central episode. Most of the material derives from the movement’s bold, fanfare-like opening—a pugnacious idea that is then contrasted with a gentler, extended theme that bespeaks the young Hindemith’s strong interest in the music of Debussy, whose work he had got to know well as it was an enthusiasm of his commanding officer on the Western Front. The movement’s harmonic language is often highly chromatic and tonally ambiguous—especially in the central episode, which wanders restlessly; the E flat tonic is emphasized at various points but is often cunningly obscured.

The second movement is a slow, solemn dance, grave and even a little ghostly in character, with an uncanny atmosphere that aligns it with the music of Ferruccio Busoni. The movement works towards a central climax, from which it unwinds towards the tonic E flat, eventually revealed in naked unison.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2013

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