on 4 September 2012
Hindemith, since his death in 1963,has been such an undervalued composer. Why should that be when he was considered one of the major figures of 20th century music during his lifetime. Hindemith's music represents the summation of the whole history of Western music and he achieved what no other composer did: to create a system of acoustic tonality using the 12 tones of the chromatic scale.
Ludus Tonalis or the play of tones, along with his three piano sonatas, are the very best of his piano music. Ludus Tonalis is, more or less, the equivalent of Bach's Preludes and Fugues for all the major and minor keys. Hindemith has 12 fugues for each of the tonalities and links them with a variety of delightful interludes. It's tied together by an opening prelude and a closing postlude.
This music, as some would say, is not dry, intellectual music but music of vibrant substance and rhythm. Berezovsky, the pianist in this recording, plays Ludus Tonalis to perfection here, capturing the clarity of line while never being pedantic that he is playing a fugue. His rhythms dance and his shading of the dynamics gives all the sections the emotional depth that is required. If you like to listen to a music that appeals to both heart and mind and has both tenderness and bite, then this is an ideal work as played by Berezovsky.
The Suite 1922 is quite the expressionate work in five movements, the polar opposite of Ludus Tonalis. Hindemith revels in the dissonant effects while providing rhythmic drive and wit. They are character pieces as given in their titles: March, Shimmy, Night Piece, Boston (a waltz) and Ragtime. Berezovsky plays the bravura pieces to the hilt and shapes the slow pieces with a sure technical grace.
The disc is very well recorded and matches the other fine recording of these two works by John McCabe on Hyperion Records.