1922, 1942, 2006, Music

Hindemith: Ludas Tonalis; Suite 1922 (2006) by Boris Berezovsky

This collects two of Hindemith’s solo piano works, the most famous ones and those that are usually considered “essential.”

Ludas Tonalis

Ludas Tonalis is Hindemith’s attempt at a modern version of The Well Tempered Clavier. And though it is obviously not quite up to that standard, it’s still a noble attempt. This is far and away my favourite of his music so far. I have found his orchestral music to be rather conservative, but this piece manages to both honour tradition (obviously, if it’s a Bach homage/re-imagining) and push the way we think about music, albeit while remaining conventionally tonal. It’s quite the work.

  1. Praeludium. Partly in C (mm. 1–32) and partly in F♯ (mm. 34–47)
  2. Fuga prima in C: Triple fugue
  3. Interludium: Romantic improvisation
  4. Fuga secunda in G: Dance in 5/8 time
  5. Interludium: Pastorale
  6. Fuga tertia in F: Mirror fugue
  7. Interludium: Folk dance (Gavotte)
  8. Fuga quarta in A: Double fugue
  9. Interludium: Baroque prelude
  10. Fuga quinta in E: Gigue
  11. Interludium: Romantic miniature (Chopin style)
  12. Fuga sexta in E♭: Rococo style
  13. Interludium: March
  14. Fuga septima in A♭: Romantic style
  15. Interludium: Romantic miniature (Brahms style)
  16. Fuga octava in D: Dance in 5/4 time
  17. Interludium: Baroque toccata
  18. Fuga nona in B♭: Subject transformation fugue
  19. Interludium: Pastorale
  20. Fuga decima in D♭: Inversion fugue
  21. Interludium: Folk dance (Courante)
  22. Fuga undecima in B (canon): Accompanied canon
  23. Interludium: Romantic waltz
  24. Fuga duodecima in F♯: Stretto fugue
  25. Postludium: Retrograde inversion of the Praeludium.

1922 Op. 26

Though 1922 is far less ambitious, it is no less enjoyable. It’s a fun and thought-provoking piece that challenges traditional ideas of piano tunes while remaining in the tradition, but also incorporating influences from contemporary music, in a way that I feel like Hindemith’s later music absolutely does not. It’s pretty good stuff.

The collection on the whole is superb and really the only thing keep me from awarding it full marks is that there are greater composers for the piano in the first half of the 20th century – Copland, Debussy, Satie and many others – and Hindemith’s music isn’t quite as important as that stuff.


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