Some Anti-Romantic Melodists

Samuel Andreyev has just done a nice video about Hindemith that reminded me of how much I like him. He's also a great antidote to all the misty, smeary, billowy late-Romantic/Impressionist stuff I've been listening to lately so I thought it would be worth doing a round-up of some good things in the same vein.

Here's Andreyev's video:

When I was a not-very-good clarinettist the Hindemith sonata was one of my favourite pieces to play. It has some of the most splendid melodies in the whole repertoire, and those strong, sinewy lines are part of what I'm after in this post:

The music is cool and precise, which is what Hindemith is known for. He's less excited by wild extremes of human experience than he is about getting everything poised just so, like a Miro mobile. In this he reminds me of Stravinsky, and another piece I used to like playing -- the fast bits were always a bit hard for me but the first movement is indelibly written in my memory, something I must have warmed up with every day for months:

This is all very exciting but conventional musical emoting is in abeyance. I like this; too many people, especially in guitarland, seem to think something like "expressing emotions" is what music is all about. If I want to hear someone doing that I've got plenty of options, thanks all the same.

Somewhat similar to the Stravinsky is Elliott Carter's breakthrough Cello Sonata. Here the cello does stray into Romantic territory but the piano keeps it very firmly grounded. Carter's music became much denser and more intimidating later, and I can get on with that when I'm in the mood but to be honest I find this a lot more genial:

Is it a big leap from this kind of thing to Stockhausen? I don't think so:

(Aside: I saw Freitag Aus Licht at the Barbican in London many years ago; it was amazing, and perhaps all the better from my perspective for not being staged.)