hindemith sonate tempo

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by Bikephan, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. Bikephan

    Bikephan New Friend

    Sep 22, 2005
    Central Missouri
    In the Schott edition the first movement is marked a quarter note 96-100, yet most recordings that I have found fall within the 112-120 range. What is you opinion on this matter. Also, in your estimation what elements or ideas separate a masterful and musical performance of this piece from a simply well executed performance?

    Thomas Bruton
  2. Tarter_trpt8

    Tarter_trpt8 Pianissimo User

    Jan 17, 2005
    St. Paul, MN
    Depends on how good your piano player is....
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    To tell you the truth, I don't know why people choose to, play it at the faster tempo except that there might be endurance issues and they want to get over with quicker. I play it at the printed marking. There is also the famous old recording with Gil Johnson and Glenn Gould which was very fast, almost cut time. Maybe it's a hold over from a well known recording. It's like Beethoven's 5th and the big ritardandi conductors used to put in that were dramamtic but not what Beethoven wanted, apparently.

    I believe a strong command of extreme dynamics is essential to a "masterful" performance and well-executed rhythms. The phrasing is often done poorly when people play accents in the wrong places, and don't allow the music to breathe when it needs releasing in just the right places. It's dramatic music and has become a contest piece or college audition piece like the Arutunian and played in a similar style. I don't like to hear high school students play it but they have to because all the colleges ask for it, so, what are they supposed to do? The same goes for the Hummel and Haydn. I'd rather hear a kid play Rustiques by Bozza and a Brandt Concertpiece or a well played Arban solo than a perfunctory performance of classical stuff. College should be the time to get into the soul of music by the great masters. Okay, Hummel was not a master and neither was Neruda. But you get the idea.

    The Hindemith needs to sound easy yet meaningful, as though it were the most important piece on earth when you're playing it. High School is the time in one's life for inspirational fluff. Lord knows you have plenty of time in front you after High School for the seriousness of life.

  4. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    All the editions that I have seen say half note = 96-100 but I was taught that it is a mistake (sure would be full of them in the piano part).
  5. JJ

    JJ Pianissimo User

    Aug 21, 2005
    In the current edition, the tempo is quarter = 96-100, in the older edition (also published by Schott) it is half note = 96-100.

    Ed Treutel told me that he asked Hindemith about this at Princeton, and that Hindemith assured him that it was a misprint. However, Treutel insisted that Hindemith preferred the faster tempo. Given that the later edition is at the slower tempo (and that, to my ears at least, the slower tempo makes more sense), I'm convinced he simply got it backwards ...

  6. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
  7. brassmouth

    brassmouth New Friend

    Jul 10, 2005
    New Jersey
    I'm playing this piece for an audition in December and I was told play it faster than 96-100. I usually play it 120-126 bpm, except for when I'm practicing a particular section.
  8. john daniel

    john daniel New Friend

    Sep 20, 2005
    appleton, WI
    If you look closely at the older Schott edition, you can see that the half note was filled in by hand to become a quarter note. Roger Voisin was at the premier (at Tanglewood) and I heard him say that half note 116 was intended by Hindemith. I believe he said Hindemith was at the piano for that performance, but I don't remember for sure. He did say that he thought the tempo marking was ridiculous but that a bit of a two feel was intended. I usually try to play it around quarter=120-132, and feel it in two where appropriate. This is very helpful for student performances. The sense of impending doom comes from a relentless style of phrasing, and strength of tone/rhythm, IMO.
  9. JJ

    JJ Pianissimo User

    Aug 21, 2005
    That's interesting; so Voisin confirms Treutel's account of Hindemith's intentions!

    As I mentioned above, Treutel also insisted on playing it in cut time (half note = 96-100), and, now that I've read John's remarks, I vaguely remember that he actually wanted an even faster tempo (i.e., closer to John's half note = 116). I always thought that Treutel must've remembered that there was a misprint, but, since I was using the later -already corrected - edition, had simply gotten it backwards. I guess that was a little too easy ...

  10. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004

    Please don't think I'm doubting these accounts but I still can't buy it. Now, mind you, I having except visceral reaction... no real text to support myself. It's more theory and experience with Hindemth's orchestral works and the markings that i've seen in his stuff.

    The first thing is the "closer to 116" reference... 116! Think about for a sec. 116 is the marking for Ravel's G major concerto. Let's go for 104 even. People play Petrushka at that tempo. I'm trying to imagine the first movement at that tempo. The pianist would shoot you! It's just about impossible unless you have a pianist of much greater ability than the trumpeter would be.

    Look at something else: Mit Kraft.. with power, strength, whatever you want but you understand the idea. How can you bring that off at half equals 96?! Go grab an accurate metronome and sing the first few bars at half equals 96 and tell me that you can bring that sentiment off at that tempo. Better yet let's hear the piano part at half = 96. If you can, my hat's off to you.

    No... I just can't accept it, intuitively. I can accept that people's accounts of stories (even the ones that have happened to them) can get mutated over the years. I remember things Vacchiano used to say that I KNEW weren't wholly true but I also knew that that was the way he remembered it so I didn't argue. There really wouldn't have been any point other than for me to show him up and back in the old days, you just didn't do that out of respect. If you knew what was correct you went with it and that was that. No big deal.

    So, bottom line? Even with the reminiscences of both of those highly respected gentlemen, I can't buy the notion of the First movement of the Hindemith being faster than quarter =116 at the fastest. I don't think the piano part would sound characteristic nor would the "Mit Kraft" marking get its due.

    For my part, I'll continue at quarter equals 100.


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