Hindemith: Ludus Tonalis; Weisgall: Piano Sonata

Reviewed on Mon 11 Sep, 2017

Hindemith’s 52-minute, 25-part marathon plays studiously with counterpoint and tonal organization, while simultaneously challenging and contesting the limits of piano technique in freely chromatic writing.

Pianophiles will need no recommendation to investigate these rich, resonant and robust performances by Martin Perry of Hugo Weisgall’s Piano Sonata and the granitic monument that is Paul Hindemith’s Ludus Tonalis. Composed 40 years apart, both wrestle with the contemporary point and purpose of that venerable concert instrument, the piano. Both also hark back to classical form in general (Weisgall) and the fugue in particular (Hindemith). Weisgall’s severe, post-tonal Sonata dates from 1982 and occupies a self-referential landscape in which ideas are introduced, fractured and re-assembled with myriad rhythmic and dynamic variety. Hindemith’s 52-minute, 25-part marathon plays studiously with counterpoint and tonal organization, while simultaneously challenging and contesting the limits of piano technique in freely chromatic writing. Martin Perry copes courageously and with concentrated commitment to finding stability on the shifting sands of its surface, while deftly looking for appropriate points to anchor the whole. Excellent recording and useful notes by Allan Kozinn.
–Michael Quinn