Hindemith Music for One and Two Pianos
This generously filled two disc set contains Hindemith's most mature works for one and two pianos. This demanding but rewarding music is still unknown to the majority of music-lovers. Glenn Gould recorded the Piano Sonatas in the 1960s; more recently, the Estonian pianist Kalle Randalu presented them on MDG. The principal rivals in Ludus Tonalis are John McCabe (Hyperion) and Boris Berezovsky (Warner Classics).
The three Sonatas were written in quick succession in 1936 and are, as a consequence, stylistically consistent. The First and Third require a virtuoso technique and are written in a grand manner that seems to hark back to both Bach and Beethoven. The Second Sonata is less ambitious, yet perhaps ultimately more persuasive than its weightier brothers. Bernard Roberts offers playing of real power and authority. The imposing second movement of the First Sonata has plenty of gravitas in this performance.
'Nicely done performances, exceptional.' Guy S. Rickards, Gramophone
'This generously filled two disc set contains Hindemith's most mature works for one and two pianos. The principal rivals in Ludus Tonalis are John McCabe (Hyperion) and Boris Berezovsky (Warner Classics). For me, the Second Piano Sonata is the real gem of the three. It is absolutely charming and instantly memorable. This music makes it clear why so many English composers were attracted to Hindemith's music in the mid-Twentieth Century. Bernard Roberts plays the Second Sonata with much affection, particularly the lovely opening of the finale. In the Sonata for Piano, Four Hands, Roberts is joined by David Strong and this musical partnership works splendidly. The faster moments in particular are despatched with considerable flair. Strong also takes part in the Sonata for Two Pianos, which receives a distinguished performance. Roberts' performance of Ludus Tonalis is worthy to rank with the two superb rival versions listed above. Roberts offers playing of great nobility. He refuses to sentimentalise the more expressive sections of the work and the piece benefits hugely as a result. For those listeners interested primarily in Ludus Tonalis, the choice of version will largely depend on the coupling; both McCabe and Berezowsky offer just the Suite 1922 on a single disc. Roberts' inclusion of the three Piano Sonatas, in such commanding performances, may well settle the matter in his favour. These discs are well recorded and the performances are consistently of the highest calibre. There is also a superb booklet note by Calum MacDonald. An enthusiastic endorsement for this Nimbus set.' David Jennings musicweb-international .com