Hindemith’s Sonata for unaccompanied viola Op 31 No 4, composed during 1923 but not performed until the following year, confirmed the severity of his new style, but already presages greater freedom. The first of the three movements is a remarkable test of virtuosity in the manner of a vigorous moto perpetuo, with flashes of wit and pounding, obsessive folk dance rhythms. The slow movement, headed ‘Lied’, is song-like: a gracious and intricate lyric interlude. Like Op 11 No 5, this sonata ends with a massive finale, lasting longer than the other movements combined. Here it is a set of variations on a rather rustic, even quasi-medieval theme propounded at the outset. The sequence of variations is divided into three large spans, at first increasingly virtuosic, then slow and inwardly expressive, and finally working up to an earnest and grandiloquent conclusion. Hindemith gave the premiere of this sonata in Donaueschingen on 18 May 1924.
from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2010