1917 in Music

Music reviews for music that was published in 1917.


1.  Charles Ives: Violin Sonata No. 1 (10/10)

The first sonata is a crazy, careening, almost drunken lark which veers from pretty violin playing to seemingly discordant piano thumping and shrillness from the violin. As with most of Ives’ work, seemingly incongruous ideas are easily and wonderfully juxtaposed.


1. Charles Ives: Violin Sonata No. 2 (10/10)

The second sonata is significantly more somber, at least at first. Again, it shows off Ives’ lack of regard for convention and tradition. And his interest in styles that shouldn’t fit together.


3. Paul Hindemith: Sonata for 10 Instruments (8/10)

When I was younger, I thought sonata meant “solo.” Obviously it doesn’t. But it usually implies small groups – since the Baroque era, trios at the most. (I know of some baroque sonatas that employ 6 or 7 instruments.) So the idea of a sonata for 10 instruments seems a little out there. Also, I don’t have any details about the work, so I don’t know which part is incomplete.

The opening movement may be the most beautiful piece of music Hindemith ever wrote. (This is a composer not necessarily known for his beauty, bear in mind.) I can think of nothing else of his I’ve ever heard that approaches this in terms of beauty. There are more clever or inventive passages, but nothing like this.

The second movement is extremely short, so that might be the incomplete one. It’s much more in line with what I know of Hindemith: traditional conventions combined with modern ideas creating something that sounds deceptively traditional.
The third movement picks up where the second left off (there is no proper slow movement, unless the first is taken as the slow one) but is more noticeably modern.

On the whole, this is a piece of music that probably deserves more recognition and performance than it gets. A shockingly good piece of music, given that it was never finished.


4. Gustav Holst: 4 Songs, Op. 35 (8/10)

I really like this. From memory, I don’t think I’ve yet heard a song for just voice and violin. This is a neat and unusual approach, to the best of my knowledge. I recognize there’s nothing truly groundbreaking here, but I do appreciate the settings more than I usually do.


5. Paul Hindemith: Violin Sonata in G Minor, Op. 11, No. 6 (8/10)

The first solo violin sonata (I have to specify that, since Hindemith wrote sonatas for both solo and accompanied violin) starts off with a melodic little, vaguely jig-like or folk song-like passage that pleases but doesn’t really sound like anything too radical.
The second movement is the slow one, but is considerably more daring musically, to my ears.

The third movement is one of those that really shows off the abilities of the instrument and the player. It’s probably my favourite.
Although it’s not on the level of his viola music, I still think this is a pretty great showcase for the violin.


6. Frederick Delius: “To be sung of a summer night on the water” (7/10)

This is a pleasant, brief choral piece that feels a little more ethereal than his usual stuff that tries to conjure summers in the English countryside. It belongs in a film. Well, the first part does. The second part is maybe a little too noodly.

7. Erik Satie: Sonatine bureaucratique (7/10)

This is an attack no a very specific piece of music, one I haven’t heard. So it’s hard to know what to do with it.


8. Alexander Glazunov: Concerto No. 2 in B major for piano and orchestra (6/10)

The second piano concerto is definitely not my thing – written right in the middle of a musical revolution, it definitely sounds like the counter revolution or, at the very least, some kind of peace-making. It’s technically difficult, sure, but it sounds like it belongs to the late 19th century, not the early 20th.


Erik Satie: Rag-time Parade (??/10)

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