Like Arnold Schönberg, Josef Matthias Hauer composed “with twelve tones” – but with a very different result! If dissonance, harmonic tension, and the highest degree of expressivity mark the musical process in Schönberg, then Hauer’s music is free of all of the above. Of absolutely airy lightness, of extraordinary song character, and often concluding with euphonious major triads, Hauer’s preludes and melodies recorded here for the first time in complete form by Steffen Schleiermacher offer a compendium of this composer’s musical philosophy.
“Expression in keeping with the particular melos” is the interpretive instruction for each of these short works. It is left to the finely intuitive interpreter to set out in quest of the “melos” and to follow its character. And even the choice of the “well-tempered” instrument is free in most cases. Steffen Schleiermacher alternates between the Manfred Bürki Steinway grand piano of 1901, the celesta, and the harmonium – and the result is a contemplative atmosphere of suggestive fascination.
“Sonnenmelos” of 1919 offers a particularly impressive audio demonstration of the significance of melos. Expressly set for song and piano, this piece “interpretively and poetically rendered by Joseph Matthias Hauer“ is strictly monophonic! There is nary a trace of complex rhythms or spicy harmony, and nothing disturbs the clarity of the intervals, which with great systematic logic reach all the twelve chromatic tones – before the repetition of only one of them.
As in “Sonnenmelos,” the baritone Holger Falk assists the pianist in the Melody op. 24. At the very latest ever since the recording Musik mit Hölderlin, these two musicians have formed the dream duo for Hauer’s music. Steffen Schleiermacher discharges most of the musical duties on his own, and once again his extraordinary sense of sound leads to a fascinating discovery producing an almost purifying effect in our times of musical oversaturation.