Max Reger was a master of the organ, so compiling his entire output for the instrument is no small feat. This 14 disc set from MPS Jazz is a rare opportunity to enjoy all of Reger's organ works in one place.
This is Reger at his most accessible. In both pieces there is plenty of atmosphere and colour. The Hiller Variations is possibly his greatest and most satisfying orchestral work and is indispensable. Reger was a prolific composer, and it has to be said not all that came from his pen was necessarily memorable. However, the two works on this disc are vintage Reger. He lived his short life as fast as he composed his music. His is a special and unique sound-world which offers great rewards to those who take the time to explore it. Radiant playing from the Concertgebouw under Jarvi and sound to match.
"…As usual with this conductor, transparency of texture is paramount, often revealing details that go unnoticed in others’ readings, and his subtle plasticity of phrasing keeps the music fluid and moving forward. Thus in a work like the Mozart Variations, one may prefer the more straightforward conducting of Eduard van Beinum in the Guild set, but one will find much more to hear in the Segerstam performance…" ~Fanfare
…Performed by violinist Tanja Becker-Bender and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, conducted by Lothar Zagrosek, the Violin Concerto is grandiose, lush, and expansive, epitomizing the post-Romantic preferences for large-scale forms, luxurious orchestration, and densely wrought ideas, while the Two Romances are comparatively modest in their length and transparent in content. (…) the orchestra sounds gorgeous, and the careful microphone placement keeps Becker-Bender front and center, so the elaborate scoring doesn't drown out her sound.
Max Reger's music is complex, difficult, studious, technically great but emotionally lacking, and the fact that on most photographs of him he looks quite grumpy fits the image.
While often accused of composing “Bach with too many notes”, the music of Reger had tremendous influence on the music of his successors. The two late Violin Sonatas featured here are among the finest examples of late Romantic chamber music – tightly constructed, compelling and remarkably concise.
How convenient for all of Max Reger's music for clarinet and piano to fit on a single disc–or, better still, to have all of it presented in excellent performances!
From the notes: Charisma is an overworked term, but there are times when no other will do. Rudolf
Serkin had it in abundance. He had no striking physical feature that would at once single him out. […..] He had only an aura - of power, yes, but not the power of a politician or a great impresario; rather, it was a power of incorruptibility formed by an iron discipline, which one felt instinctively.