Paul Hindemith

Sonata for saxophone (or alto horn or horn) & piano

    Description by James Reel

    When Hindemith discovered that the alto horn wasn't as common in the United States as he'd thought, he authorized substitution of alto saxophone or standard horn in this sonata. In any case, it's the same work, typical of Hindemith in every respect, except for the inclusion of a poem to be recited by the players. The opening "Ruhig bewegt" movement is a short, wistful prelude, setting a tone of pastoral nostalgia to which Hindemith will later return. Suddenly, a vigorous mini-rondo bursts in, the horn and piano trading off the primary phrases. The music lurches into a contrapuntal, metrically irregular theme; after the instruments seem to stumble into a moment of inertia, the opening theme carries the movement to a more conventional ending. The slow movement, "Sehr langsam," is short, lyrical (based on two contrasting ideas), and toward the end, almost bluesy. The finale, "Lehaft," begins not with music but with the horn player reading a poem by Hindemith, The Posthorn (Dialogue). The text links the sound of the horn to the distant past, evoking "pallid yearning, melancholy longing." The pianist replies to the hornist, in part, "Your task it is, amid confusion, rush, and noise to grasp the lasting, calm, and meaningful, and finding it anew, to hold and treasure it." The pianist then plays rapid figures possibly evoking "confusion, rush, and noise"; the horn soloist responds with a very lyrical melody, recalling the mood of the opening movement, but now in a more outgoing manner. The piano's "confusion" music intertwines with the horn's song-like material, bringing the sonata to a conclusion that is simultaneously exciting and comforting.


    1. Ruhig bewegt
    2. Lebhaft
    3. Sehr langsam
    4. Lebhaft

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 IBS Classical IBS 42015
    2016 Odradek ODR 331
    2016 Albany Music Distribution / Albany Records TROY 1612
    2016 Odradek ODRCD 334
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Harmonia Mundi HMC 905271
    2014 Brilliant Classics 94874BR
    2012 Sony Classical 88725413572
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Lawo Classics LAW 1005
    2011 Albany Music Distribution TROY 1311
    2009 Melba Recordings MR 301116
    2008 Sony Music Distribution 714838
    2006 Globe 6049
    2000 Rene Gailly 92024
    1999 Equilibrium 10
    1999 Ars Musici 1220
    1997 Arts Music 47123
    1996 Crystal Records Dist. 670
    1996 Syrinx Record 96101
    1995 Summit Records 115
    1995 CPO 999229
    1994 BIS 159
    1994 Globe 5032
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 52671
    MDG 3040696
    Kleos Classics 5118
    MDG Archive 6421416