LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Scene
PERFORMER: Ensemble Avantgarde
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 613 1060-2
Josef Matthias Hauer (1883-1959) gets a passing mention in most histories of 20th-century music as
the inventor of a form of 12-note composition almost exactly contemporary with that of Schoenberg. The two men became fierce rivals, and Hauer went to his grave claiming himself as the ‘creative originator and (despite many imitators!) still the only authority and expert in the field of 12-tone music’, but posterity has seen it rather differently. Compared with Schoenberg’s method, Hauer’s was unsophisticated and limited, and the results he produced with it, certainly on the evidence of this disc, totally inconsequential.
Ensemble Avantgarde performs no fewer than 15 of Hauer’s later works, to which he gave no titles other than the date of composition (between 1946 and 1958). All are short – the longest here lasts barely five minutes – and whatever their scoring (from a solo keyboard up to six-part ensemble of wind and strings) follow much the same procedure: the note row is stated, and then used as the basis of a brief contrapuntal exercise – rhythmic interest is more or less minimal. All the pieces are devoid
of expressive content, too, and they seem more like sketches than finished works, ideas awaiting a development which never happens. Andrew Clements