The five-movement Sonata No 1 carries for superscription an unidentified quotation: ‘An die schönen Stunden denke immer’ (Always think of the good times). It begins with a wiry, energetic Toccata (a species of movement Hartmann was to favour throughout his career), whose strongly rhythmicized motivic working breaks out occasionally into cadenza-like prestissimo flurries of notes. In complete contrast, the ‘calm crotchets’ of the second movement carry an austerely lyrical melodic line, with a slightly more agitated middle section making use of triple- and quadruple-stopping. The third movement carries the curious direction Verrückt schnell, unschön spielen
(insanely fast, ugly playing) and is a furious scherzo in 7/4 time characterized by dissonant double-stopping, manic repeated notes and capriciously changing rhythmic groupings. If Hartmann had a model for this extraordinary movement it was probably the Rasendes Zeitmass
(Raging tempo) in Hindemith’s unaccompanied Viola Sonata, Op 25 No 1, of 1922. It comes to a shrieking climax and then a slow coda leads into the principal slow movement, marked Mit viel Ausdruck
(with full expression). Here the violin spins a wonderfully flexible cantilena, the time signature changing in almost every bar, and with whole-tone inflections that suggest the influence of Debussy. Spanning the instrument’s full gamut, it mounts to its highest register and gradually descends to a peaceful close. The finale is a fugue, also subtitled ‘Toccata’, oddly characterized as Heiter, burschikos
(cheerful and tomboyish) and directed to be played always staccato. This is the most neoclassical movement in conception, though Hartmann handles this most taxing of forms for a solo string instrument with a strenuous panache of his own.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2007