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CD Review

Josef Matthias Hauer

Hölderlin Lieder

  • Hölderlin-Lieder, Op. 6
  • Hölderlin-Lieder, Op. 12
  • Halfte des Lebens, Op. 21 #2
  • Jugend, Op. 21 #5
  • Hölderlin-Lieder, Op. 23
  • Der Gott der Jugend, Op. 32 #3
  • Tranen, Op. 40 #3
  • Piano Pieces with Inscriptions from Words of Hölderlin, Op. 25
Holder Falk, tenor
Steffen Schleiermacher, piano
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG6131686-2 58m
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Josef Matthias Hauer (1883-1959) is one of the oddest and most enigmatic composers of the 20th century, indeed his life and achievements are almost unique in the whole history of music. Born in Vienna's Neustadt, Hauer grew up in an environment of cultural and musical change, and this left its imprint on his considerable output, which is dissonant and intricate to say the least. His compatriot Arnold Schoenberg is today credited with being the inventor of twelve-note technique, but Hauer disputed this claim, and there is much truth in his assertion. But the composer's poor view of himself and Schoenberg's strong personality contributed to Hauer's complete disappearance from the scene.

His compositions also fell into oblivion, and even today his music hardly ever makes it to the concert hall. This CD pays tribute to his art with a programme dedicated to his settings of poems by Friedrich Hölderlin, a poet Hauer read in 1913 aged 30. Hölderlin's verses made a great impact on Hauer, and he immediately started setting them to music. Written between 1914 and 1925, these songs range over a wide stylistic spectrum which involves twelve-note rows with a tonal harmonic frame added with a dramatic employment of the voice from the very plain art song to speech-song. There are also instances where lyrical song and speech-song juxtapose within a single song. Both Falk and Schleiermacher are passionate advocates of Hauer's music and their performances are persuasive and sensitive, despite the complexities of these mini creations.

An exciting discovery in the best MD&G standards we have come to expect from this German label.

Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech