Movement 1: Lebhaft, aber nicht geeilt
Movement 2: Mässig schnell, mit viel Wärme vortragen
Movement 3: Scherzo: Schnell
Movement 4: In Form und Zeitmass einer Passacaglia: Das Thema sehr gehalten
Op 11 No 5 reflects something of the influences which were still helping Hindemith to shape his personal identity in music. Brahms, Reger and César Franck are hinted at in the ‘lively but not hurried’ (Lebhaft, aber nicht geeilt) first movement; there is a tincture of Debussy (beloved by Hindemith’s commanding officer at the front) in the rhapsodic slow movement. Hindemith instructed his new publishers, Schotts Söhne of Mainz, to set this movement’s central section in smaller type, as a kind of evanescent parenthesis. The succeeding scherzo, too, has a touch of Impressionist fantasy, reminding us of the ‘moonstruck Pierrot’ depicted in Debussy’s 1914 Cello Sonata. These three movements are all quite short, but the finale is a massive variation movement headed ‘In the Form and Tempo of a Passacaglia’ (In Form und Zeitmass einer Passacaglia). Hindemith’s ultimate model is unmistakably the famous D minor Chaconne from Bach’s Violin Partita BWV1004, but viewed through a post-Brahmsian sense of sonority and architecture that produces a truly contemporary result. This ardent (and arduous) movement, a most impressive compositional feat, is the first example of a form which was to be one of Hindemith’s trademarks throughout his career, and it makes the Sonata something of a personal manifesto of artistic ambition.
from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2010