Movement 1: Sehr lebhaft – Markiert und kraftvoll
Movement 2: Sehr langsam Viertel
Movement 3: Finale: Lebhafte Viertel
The evaporation of this energy into the sudden understatement of the coda is all the more unexpected—as is the eloquence of the slow movement, a kind of impassioned monologue for the viola against tolling piano chords: sometimes bell-like, sometimes like a chorale. The finale bursts in with brusquely percussive gestures in both instruments, developing into a determined and exhilarating moto perpetuo. This is imbued apparently (and for Hindemith unusually) with extended references to Eastern European music. One feels his contact at contemporary music festivals with the brilliant chamber works of Kodály and Bartók had temporarily rubbed off on him. Perhaps he realized this, for the movement is virtually unique in his output; it may be why he allowed this—in every other respect magnificent—sonata, alone of the Op 25 group, to languish unpublished during his lifetime after he gave the first performance in January 1923.
from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2009