Hindemith: Violin Sonatas

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Composer: Paul Hindemith
Artists: Eliot Lawson (violin), Jill Lawson (piano)

How many works by Hindemith can you name? This is the question underpinning the opening note written by the artists on this release, as it would appear that this composer – undoubtedly one of the 20th century’s most famous – in fact wrote ‘the least famous music of the 20th century’. Jill and Eliot Lawson have therefore taken it upon themselves to try and go a little way towards changing this premise; through presenting the complete sonatas for violin and piano of Paul Hindemith, they hope to reveal the ‘magic’ of one of music history’s most original voices.

The first half of the release is dedicated to the sonatas Op.11, works that were devised as early as 1917 – by which time Hindemith, first and foremost a violinist, was already a master of his instrument. While No.1 is largely atonal and bears the influences of Debussy (one of the composer’s greatest idols at the time), No.2 has vaster proportions and more obviously refers to the late German Romanticism of Reger, Strauss and Korngold. Fast-forward 15 years and we come to the final two sonatas – works that reveal a unique blend combining years of experimentation and artistic development with elegance, confidence and ease. Premiered in 1936, the Sonata in E major was composed during a time of great personal duress following the Nazis’ attack of the composer in the press. It marks the first in a series in which Hindemith set out to write a sonata for every instrument; the C major sonata, dating from the composer’s exile in Switzerland, also features in what amounts to a 26-strong collection of veritable instrumental portraits

00:00:00 dViolin Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 11 No. 1: I. Frisch
00:04:19 Violin Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 11 No. 1: II. Im Zeitmaß eines langsamen feierlichen Tanzes
00:09:18 Violin Sonata in D Major, Op. 11 No. 2: I. Lebhaft
00:16:06 Violin Sonata in D Major, Op. 11 No. 2: II. Ruhig und gemessen
00:24:19 Violin Sonata in D Major, Op. 11 No. 2: III. Im Zeitmaß und Charakter eines geschwinden Tanzes
00:29:39 Violin Sonata in E Major: I. Ruhig bewegt
00:33:26 Violin Sonata in E Major: II. Langsam
00:39:47 Violin Sonata in C Major: I. Lebhaft
00:42:21 Violin Sonata in C Major: II. Langsam
00:46:28 Violin Sonata in C Major: III. Fuge. Ruhig bewegt

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