DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Rare Hindemith Highlights Ingmar Bergman's Partner, Käbi Laretei

By Norman Lebrecht on August 9, 2019

Käbi Laretei
Estonian-Swedish pianist Käbi Laretei (1922–2014) with her husband Ingmar Bergman.

Paul Hindemith: Ludus Tonalis (Decca Eloquence)

★★★★☆
🎧 Spotify | Amazon

In the painstaking task of reading page proofs for my next book, I needed something on in the background that would keep my rhythm going without distracting me with an excess of invention. Hindemith, who else?

The German composer, damned by the Nazis as a dangerous modernist, was never other than a cerebral conservative with an ear for correct form. Exiled to Istanbul, then to Yale, he reduced students to tears with rigorous lessons in theory and any number of ruthless technical exercises designed to make them better human beings.

The 1943 Ludus Tonalis set for solo piano, premiered by Artur Schnabel in Chicago that year, is Hindemith’s attempt at a Goldberg Variations, contrapuntal as a dyspeptic snake, turning this way and that, striking without warning. Like a rattler, you know it’s there but you don’t dare look.

The pianist in this rare recording, reissued from 1965, is the Estonian refugee Käbi Laretei who, in Sweden, became the first wife of the film director Ingmar Bergman. Why she is not better known, I cannot figure. She has technique to spare, and a feel for mood that few piano players can replicate. Laretei treats Hindemith with appropriate austerity, no flirty smiles, no lapses of concentration (dinner at the Bergmans must have been fun). I wish I’d heard her playing Webern.

I’ve had her Ludus in the background all week and, while I can’t pretend to love the work, I can’t help but admire Hindemith’s morning exercises, his oh-so-German devotion to the precise placement of nuts and bolts and Laretei’s unflinching turn of the family screwdriver.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.

LUDWIG VAN TORONTO

Want more updates on classical music and opera news and reviews? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for all the latest.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Shaw Festival's The Russian Play An Impressive Mainstage Debut

By Paula Citron on July 28, 2019

With her first mainstage Shaw production, The Russian Play has shown director Diana Donnelly to be a shining talent.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | Canadian Composer Killed By Grizzly Bear In Northwest Territories

By Anya Wassenberg on August 22, 2019

The classical music world lost an innovative light when composer Julien Gauthier was killed in an attack by a grizzly bear in the Northwest Territories on August 15.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE SCOOP | Norman Lebrecht’s The Song of Names To Premiere At TIFF Gala Presentation

By Michael Vincent on July 27, 2019

The classical music world is about to get the Hollywood treatment with the presentation of the film adaptation of Norman Lebrecht’s The Song of Names with Tim Roth and Clive Owen on September 8 at The Toronto International Film Festival.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.