Music examples from published and unpublished compositions. Some of these pieces were broadcast by various International Radio Stations and are also available on CD.
Sonata for Piano 1950/52 *
Dominik Blum, Piano
From the CD Works for Piano Solo 1949 - 1987
Trio for flute, clarinet and bassoon (1946)
Ensemble Neue Horizonte Bern
Directed by Urs Peter Schneider
13 Pieces for 2 pianos (1959)
Dominik Blum and Tamriko Kordzaia
Piece for orchestra and 2 pianos (1968) ***
CD: Chamber music and orchestral works 1960–69
Piece for large orchestra (1960) ***
CD: Chamber music and orchestral works 1960–69
Organ piece 1968
Original version: Piano piece 1968
Wind quintet 1989
Live at Chollerhalle Zug
Orchestral piece No. 5 (1955)
Biel-Solothurn Symphony Orchestra
Klangschichten (“Sound layers”) (1976) Electronic study. Experimental studio of the Heinrich Strobel Foundation of South-West German Radio in Freiburg im Breisgau.
From the cycle Seven Songs (1950):
“The poet”, Hermann Hesse
Dominik Blum, piano – Kornelia Bruggmann, mezzo-soprano
Requiem for orchestra and two pianos (1967)
Directed by Jonathan Stockhammer
* from the CD: Hermann Meier, Works for piano solo.
Nachkomponiert von Marc Kilchenmann.
Steamboat Switzerland Extended, Sederunt Principes
*** from the CD: Kammermusik und Orchesterwerke 1960 - 69.
** Recording: Concert «Diesseits Jenseits», Sunday 18 March 2018, Chollerhalle Zug
Julianna Wetzel Flöte, Peter Vögeli Oboe, Nicola Katz Klarinette, Patricia Pazos Pintor Fagott, Bahar Tonaboylu Horn, Miriam Müller Violine, Claudia Kienzler Violine, Markus Wieser Viola, Felix Schüeli Violoncello, Kaspar Wirz Kontrabass, Andreas Brenner Leitung.
Works for piano solo
One of the year’s happy discoveries. I had never heard of Swiss composer Hermann Meier before this disc, and now I am eager for more. His is a common name, but a targeted search for the composer dead-ends at Web sites for the label and pianist.
Meier worked as a schoolteacher, but he studied piano, organ and composition at the Basel Music Academy. Vladimir Vogel instructed him in 1948-49, and the next year brought lessons with René Leibowitz. Like much of the European avant-garde, he progressed through serialism and dodecaphony, and by the late 1960’s he was creating graphic scores that could be realized as fully notated works (the cover art is based on a 1960 Meier illustration). In 1975 he worked at the Heinrich Strobel electronic-music studio and wrote a piece for tape that won a regional prize in Switzerland. His music, neither naïve nor provincial, tends towards spare and expressive lines.
These five piano compositions cover the gamut of Meier’s interests and abilities. The earliest work on the disc, a Sonata for Piano (1950-52), has three movements with punchy rhythms suggesting a close study of Schoenberg’s Serenade, Op. 24, or the Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene, Op. 34. Even though contemporary trends were elsewhere (Boulez’s Second Sonata  and Cage’s Music of Changes), Meier handles this classic serial style confidently, and has written effervescent music with expressive lines much like Webern’s early songs. Neither ornate nor virtuosic, and the simplicity of the bare voices is akin to Bach’s Inventions. The last movement unfolds as theme-and-variations with what sounds like a fugue at the end.
Klavierstück 1968, “meinen Freund dem Pianisten Charles Dobler gewidmet,” a haunting realization of a graphic score, is wonderful. It blends three distinct types of material: a lean and magisterial tune that’s immediately echoed, clusters executed tremolando, and clusters played as chords with some notes held via the pedals. Moving slowly, the opening statement is interrupted by the clusters and rhythmically repeated chords. This engrossing entry doesn’t suggest a graphical parentage. Compared to the graphic works of Haubenstock-Ramati, Meier has created something much more interesting and musical.
Klaviervariationen “Hermann Gattiker gewidmet” (1952) is the hardest piece to follow. The notes indicate many tempo changes, but the single track has no index points. The theme is not easy to pick out, and the 17:01 duration is an unbroken stream of contrasting gestures and moods. More detailed program notes would have helped. Klavierstück No. 1, “für Lilo Mathys,” (1956) is so clearly by the same hand. The melodic line is scattered with wider jumps and gently dissonant contours. Among the generous pauses and rests, intermittent activity focuses on specific regions of the keyboard. At the halfway point a crisp staccato gesture bursts out like birdsong. Klavierstück “für Urs Peter Schneider” from 1987 (music of Urs Peter Schneider appears on Wandelweiser EWR 0101) contains more clusters, but combined with a perky and lilting line. It’s as if the sound of something twitching, like a branch tapping against a window, has been rendered for piano.
Blum has been recorded at a Boesendorfer Imperial. It is clear that he really loves this music, and he plays with great passion and care for the details, especially when Meier’s style changes from piece to piece. The pianist is part of Steamboat Switzerland, a group that has used Meier’s music as source material for its improvisations. Grant Chu Covell, August 2002
Hermann MEIER: Piano piece 1968, “dedicated to my friend, the pianist Charles Dobler”; Piano piece No. 1, “for Lilo Mathys”; Piano piece “for Urs Peter Schneider”; Sonata for piano; Piano variations “dedicated to Hermann Gattiker”. Dominik Blum (piano). Timescraper Music Publishing / Edition Wandelweiser Records EWR 001 (http://www.timescraper.de/).
First performance of two orchestral works by Hermann Meier. Basel Sinfonietta. Dominik Blum and Tamriko Kordzaia, pianos. Jürg Henneberger, conductor.
Live recording on DRS 2 of the concert of 24 January 2010 in the Stadtcasino Basel.
Photo: Ulla Fringeli
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