1. Paul Hindemith: Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 25 No. 4 (10/10)
The second sonata starts out on a markedly different note than the first, almost challenging the listener to continue, as its intro is abrasive and deliberately difficult (and there is no viola for nearly 1 minute!). This is music that confronts you with its daringness (its avant-garde-ness) and puts it right in your face. It’s something that, I guess, would be hard for many people to like. But I love it. Though I have heard few viola sonatas in my life, this has to be among my favourites. Even in its softer moments, it’s confounding.
2. Paul Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 1, op. 24 no. 1 (9/10)
The first Kammermusik is a crazy, vibrant piece that manages to combine fairly strong melodies (relatively speaking) with the kind of aggressively dischordant changes and percussion punctuations modernism is known for. One of my favourite Hindemith pieces.
The third movement stands out because it is so peaceful, but it’s practically impressionist.
2. Paul Hindemith: Kleine Kammermusik, op. 24 no. 2 (9/10)
The second Kammermusik begins with some of Hindemith’s brilliant writing for piano – which always threatens to go atonal but never does – before it’s joined by the wind instruments, that do a great job of confusing my ear as to which instruments they are.
The second movement has a thriller or horror movie quality to it that’s quite appealing.
4. Gustav Holst: “Fugal Overture” Op. 40 (8/10)
The “Fugal Overture” has a lot more appeal to me than some of his other works. It’s at times energetic and at other times somber and there is a lot going on. It’s hardly significant, but it’s enjoyable. My favourite Holst piece so far.
5. Paul Hindemith: Suite 1922 (8/10)
Though 1922 is far less ambitious than (the much later) Ludas Tonaslis, 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.
6. Leos Janacek: “15 Moravian Folksongs” (8/10)
The “15 Moravian Songs” is not quite a traditional set of songs, as we might think of it, as the voice parts are included in some and not in others. Most of the tunes are extremely brief, and it’s like Janacek is just basically creating a melody on piano once and leaving you with it. It’s a neat approach, which I’ve never really heard before.
7. Gustav Holst: The Perfect Fool Op. 39 [suite version] (8/10)
The Perfect Fool suite is the ballet version of one of his operas, which was apparently so misunderstood that most people just play this version.
It’s much darker music than Holst’s usual, and reminds me more of The Planets than perhaps any other piece of his I’ve heard. As such, I like it more. Still pretty conventional stuff, but at least it has more feeling to it.
I kind of want to hear the opera.
8. Paul Hindemith: Sonata for Solo Viola, Op. 25 No. 1 (7/10)
The second sonata is more subtle and, frankly, pales in comparison to the great viola/piano sonata it was paired with in its opus. It’s still a fine piece of music, but I feel like the other “2nd” sonata is one of the great works for viola of the early 20th century. And this is more”nice.” This just sounds a lot more conservative. It reminds me of some older cello pieces.
Charles Ives: “114 Songs” (??/10)
I have only heard 17 of these so far, so I cannot yet rate the collection.