Hyperion Records

Konzertmusik, Op 48
In 1926 Hindemith began a series of works entitled Konzertmusik (‘Concert Music’), generally for somewhat larger forces than the Kammermusiks and exhibiting some of the characteristics of the Baroque Concerto Grosso. The Op 48 Konzertmusik, described as ‘for viola and large chamber orchestra’, is an exception, however. Dedicated to the French composer Darius Milhaud and his wife, this work, which Hindemith premiered in Hamburg in 1930 under the baton of Wilhelm Furtwängler, closely resembles Kammermusik No 5 in general outline. The ensemble—once again, of wind instruments plus cellos and double basses—is almost exactly the same as for the earlier work, except for two additional horns and a cor anglais which replaces the E flat clarinet.

There are five movements this time. The first is a cheerful, bustling, busily contrapuntal fast movement, typically marked Lebhaft: Bewegte Halbe (‘Lively: nimble quavers’—Hindemith’s tempo indications are often like written-out metronome marks). It has something of the character of a fast march, during which the viola is called upon to display considerable bravura—though it winds down at length to a quiet close. Without a break, heavy wind chords with a melancholic cor anglais solo announce the slow movement, which largely evolves as a peaceful melodic dialogue between viola and wind. A massive reminiscence of the movement’s opening leads to an accompanied cadenza before a sinuous coda for viola, clarinet, and the low strings.

The third movement is a brief scherzo beginning with excited wind-instrument flourishes and manic moto perpetuo figuration from the viola: when the main theme gets purposefully under way the melodic interest remains in the wind while the soloist, with considerable exercise of virtuosity, must buzz about like a demented wasp. There follows a smoother, more amiable intermezzo movement which shows off the viola’s melodic qualities and includes another cadenza-like passage, leading without a break into a quick finale (more like a coda), full of witty quips passed between soloist and ensemble, none more decisive than the business-like final cadence.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald ©

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