This work is the third in a series of eight chamber works written by the German composer, performer and conductor Paul Hindemith. Composed when Hindemith was thirty years old, it embodies the composer’s return to ‘pure’ or ‘objective’ music – music for music’s sake.
Like most of the Kammermusik series, this work is modelled on Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Gone is the extravagance of romantic expressionism, with a scaled back ensemble and clean, clear textures giving emphasis to the composer’s dextorous counterpoint.
In the opening movement the cellist leads a stately dialogue. The second movement is less restrained and the last a sprightly march. The third ‘restful’ movement sits at the heart of the work – but although it is heartfelt and profound, Hindemith takes care not to let the musical expression become subservient to emotion. To this end he was adamant that the cellist should not indulge in the commonly used heavy vibrato and rubato of the time, and negotiated to ensure his brother, Rudolf would be soloist for the work’s premiere.