When Sonata No 1 was first completed, it had a different second movement, entitled Variations
(‘Variationen’). But Walter Gieseking, who was scheduled to give the premiere in late 1936, requested that Hindemith should write something different, and the composer obliged with the slow march which now stands in its place. The variations remained unpublished until after Hindemith’s death. This too has a slow march subject (different from that in the replacement movement). The variations cover a wide gamut of expression, including a beautiful extended arioso variation characterized by the use of trills, but some of them are more dissonant and angular than the rest of the writing in the piano sonata, and the ending is stark and grim.
from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2013