Hyperion Records

Viola Sonata, Op 25 No 4
1922; first performed by Hindemith in January 1923; not published by the composer

'Hindemith: The Complete Viola Music, Vol. 1 – Viola Sonatas' (CDA67721)
Hindemith: The Complete Viola Music, Vol. 1 – Viola Sonatas
Movement 1: Sehr lebhaft – Markiert und kraftvoll
Movement 2: Sehr langsam Viertel
Movement 3: Finale: Lebhafte Viertel

Viola Sonata, Op 25 No 4
The Sonata Op 25 No 4 for viola and piano, composed in 1922, is technically still an ‘early’ work, yet every bar, at least of the first two movements, is echt Hindemith. In the meantime he had leapt to prominence in the European avant-garde with a scandalous trilogy of short operas dealing with eroticism from different perspectives, and had then almost immediately renounced their sensationalist style for a new ‘objectivity’ owing much to the Baroque composers. Unlike the F major Sonata’s virtual continuum of development from one movement to the next, therefore, the new sonata’s movements are highly contrasted and defined: this is an altogether tauter construction, in the leaner, rhythmically highly directed idiom that had rapidly evolved in the intervening years. The piano plays an unusually prominent role, opening the first movement with an extended solo of its own before the viola joins it for a driven Allegro with a gentler, but hardly much more peaceful, second subject.

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output; it may be why he allowed this—in every other respect magnificent—sonata, alone of the Op 25 group, to languish unpublished during his lifetime after he gave the first performance in January 1923.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

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

   English   Français   Deutsch