Glenn Gould Plays Hindemith

by Matthew Raley

Paul Hindemith wrote a piece of music for every instrument in the modern orchestra, which distinguishes but does not necessarily recommend him. I often find his music sterile. But not this fugue from the Piano Sonata No. 3.

This piece has it all: rhythmic interest, contrapuntal high-wire acts, atonal harmonies that sometimes imply tonal colors, and drama.

I say the piece is atonal, but that needs some qualification. The fugue subject is broadly and recognizably from the world of the scale, and the piece works its way toward a cadence that would have offended Theodor Adorno. But Hindemith makes no attempt to keep the harmonies produced by his counterpoint within even the outer frontiers of the common practice period.

Glenn Gould’s playing is powerful, as always, and his mannerisms not as eccentric as they could be.

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