Paul Hindemith

Sonata for cello & piano, Op. 11/3

    Description by Patsy Morita

    Hindemith's Sonata for cello and piano, Op. 11/3, is one of five sonatas in Op. 11, composed between 1917 and 1919, the beginning of his career-long fascination with the form. It is often considered the work of an "angry young man" because of its sharpness, spikiness, and general savagery. He was, naturally, appalled by what had happened to Europe during World War I, and, as with many composers at the time, his music became a means of expressing his distaste for a tradition that seemed linked to the causes of that war. The cello sonata is as much anti-Romantic as it is neo-Classical. It features two movements, each itself in two sections, full of contrasts between two themes most of the time, ranging in dynamics from ppp to fff, and featuring the uncomfortable minor second dissonance. The first movement -- "Mässig schnell, Viertel-Lebhaft" -- opens with that minor dissonance and a struggle between rhythm and meter, immediately setting the tone for what follows: a toccata-like frenzy. The second part of the first movement, the longer of the two, begins with an obsessive theme and another one made up of three long-short figures. The two are woven together and follow on each other, continuing the struggle between the keys of E major and F minor from the first section. The Langsam opening of the second movement provides the only glimpses of lyricism in the sonata. Again, two contrasting themes are used: one lyric and the other more march-like. The finale, Sehr lebhaft, is built from a piece of the second theme of the Langsam and seems to satirize both the Viennese waltz and the Scherzo of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. A 1921 revision of the sonata tempers some of its wildness.


    1. Mässig schnelle Viertel. Mit kraft; Lebhaft, sehr markiert
    2. Langsam; sehr lebhaft

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 C2 Hamburg / Es-Dur C2HCD 2054
    2013 Fuga Libera FUG 713
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2011 Challenge Classics CC 72524
    2007 Arte Nova 433070
    2002 Centaur Records 2575
    1999 Bridge 9088
    1999 Equilibrium 11
    1998 Arabesque Z6709
    1997 MDG 0691
    1997 Arte Nova 43307
    1996 Music & Arts CD 903
    1996 BIS 816
    1996 Signum UK 64
    1995 Music & Arts MACD 4903
    1990 Wergo 60145
    Pyramid Records 13505
    Arion 68319
    Signum UK 6400