Author Topic: Max Reger(1873-1916)  (Read 19586 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Max Reger(1873-1916)
« on: October 27, 2008, 03:55:53 PM »
Reger seems to be slipping off the radar these days-if, that is, he was ever much on it ;D

Not true perhaps of Reger the composer of chamber music or of organ pieces but his orchestral works seem seldom to be performed or recorded.  This is, I think, a pity because, despite his perceived faults, Reger was a composer of considerable importance in his time- as someone who continued but extended the Brahmsian traditions but also returned to the complex counterpoint of J.S. Bach in developing his own style. Schoenberg, for example, heaped great praise on Reger as a musical genius.

Undoubtedly Reger can be criticised for writing frequently at excessive length and-sometimes-in a style which is too academic or too intellectual. His obsession with the variation form and with fugues can become a trifle tiresome. Nor-if it matters at all-was he the most pleasant of customers with his sardonic and often crude wit and his gargantuan appetites for food, drink and tobacco(which probably led to the heart attack which killed him at the age 0f 43). But although he was not perhaps the type of guy to take on a fishing trip he was a dedicated and extraordinarily prolific composer.

Others may wish to comment on the huge corpus of great chamber and organ music but I do return often to some at least of the orchestral music with pleasure. What strikes me is how unfair some of the criticisms of dry, overly intellectual music actually are.

Although there is a incomplete boxed set of the orchestral music on Berlin Classics I am lucky enough to have most of the music on the Koch Schwann discs with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra conducted by the late Horst Stein.

Recommendations?

The magnificent Variations and Fugue on a theme of Johann Adam Hiller, Op 100(Chandos-Royal Concertgebouw/Neeme Jarvi)

The almost as good Variations and Fugue on a theme by Mozart, Op.132(Koch-Bamberg SO/Stein; the coupling is the less impressive
          Variations and Fugue on a theme by Beethoven, Op.86....yes Reger did like his "variations and fugues"!)

The magical Four Tone Poems after A. Bocklin, Op.128(Chandos-Royal Concertgebouw/N.Jarvi, coupled with the Hiller Variations, or BIS-
          Norrkoping SO/Segerstam, coupled with the sparkling, elegant Ballet Suite, Op.130 and the Beethoven Variations, or Koch-Berlin
          Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gerd Albrecht, coupled with the easy going Romantic Suite, Op.125)

The Piano Concerto, Op.114-a natural successor to the Brahms No.2(BIS-Love Derwinger and the Norrkoping SO/Segerstam, coupled
       with the attractive Suite in the Olden Style, Op.93)

The delightful Concerto in the Olden Style, Op.123(Koch-Bamberg/Stein, coupled with the prolix, wearisome Sinfonietta, Op.90)


The Violin Concerto, Op.101 has been quoted by David Wright(of Musicweb) as one of the three greatest 20th century violin concertos,
        along with the Sibelius and the Berg. That seems to me a ridiculous claim-the work is far too long and rambling at 54 minutes-but
        it is worth hearing(Koch-Walter Forchert and the Bamberg SO/Stein)

You can also add the Serenade, Op.95-at 43 minutes one of the longest serenades ever written!(Koch-Bamberg/Stein, coupled with the
        Suite in the Olden Style) or the Symphonic Prologue to a Tragedy, Op.108(33 minutes long!)-(Koch-Berlin RSO/G.Albrecht, coupled
        with the Two Romances for Violin and Orchestra, Op.50)

I have very much picked and mixed to get most of the orchestral works; the Berlin Classics box is missing the Suite in the Olden Style, the Serenade and the Two Romances but does compensate with two of Reger's works for voice and orchestra "An die Hoffnung" and
"Hymnus der Liebe". Reger did write several works for voice and/or chorus and orchestra, of which I know and admire Psalm 100(Koch again-Bamberg SO/Stein).

If the Koch discs are unavailable or difficult to find then the Berlin Classics box would be a good alternative although the performances/recordings are rather elderly-

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/may06/Reger_0183992BC.htm
« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 03:59:27 PM by Dundonnell »

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 05:25:40 PM »
Reger is some sort of a proto Schoenberg, except he was born more or less around the same time as the latter. Perhaps that's why his name felt into obscurity so fast. That, and the fact his works tend to sound the same. I'm sort of addicted to his chamber music though. I enjoy his contrapuntal density.

Kullervo

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2008, 08:03:02 PM »
His clarinet quintet is a gem.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2008, 02:29:30 PM »
Well, I'm a fan of Max Reger and probably own just over a dozen discs of his music - believe that our Harry is also an enthusiast, so surprised that he has not 'chimed' into this thread!  :D

I'll just start w/ a couple of recommendations:

String Quartets + Clarinet Quintet w/ Drolc Quartet (Karl Leister on clarinet) - outstanding 3-CD bargain on the DG Trio offerings!

Piano Selections w/ Marc-Andre Hamelin - just superb (7/8 5* ratings on Amazon HERE) -  :)

But there is so much more interesting music from this composer - enjoy!

 

Offline Superhorn

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2008, 09:43:35 AM »
  I wish I knew Reger's music better; he is definitely a composer I would like to explore. I have an excellent recording on Berlin Classics of the Hiller variations with Konwitschny and the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra, and a Naxos CD of some of his short piano works played by French pianist Jean Martin, which I like.
  I have also heard the BIS recording of the piano concerto and  several other recordings. I don't remember the name of the pianist, but the conductor is Leif Segerstam. Rudolf Serkin also recorded it with Ormandy and the Philadelphia orchestra lonf ago; I have no idea whether this has been issued on CD.
   I don't believe Reger ever wrote any symphonies; this is puzzling. Perhaps he would have if he had lived longer.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2008, 02:40:22 PM »
  I wish I knew Reger's music better; he is definitely a composer I would like to explore. I have an excellent recording on Berlin Classics of the Hiller variations with Konwitschny and the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra, and a Naxos CD of some of his short piano works played by French pianist Jean Martin, which I like.
  I have also heard the BIS recording of the piano concerto and  several other recordings. I don't remember the name of the pianist, but the conductor is Leif Segerstam. Rudolf Serkin also recorded it with Ormandy and the Philadelphia orchestra lonf ago; I have no idea whether this has been issued on CD.
   I don't believe Reger ever wrote any symphonies; this is puzzling. Perhaps he would have if he had lived longer.

The pianist on the BIS disc is Love Derwinger who also recorded the Grieg and the Stenhammer 1st Piano Concerto for that company.

Serkin's performance is on a Sony CD but is relatively difficult to find and expensive.

Offline Sydney Grew

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2008, 04:41:13 PM »
Some of Reger's best Productions are choral. May we especially recommend Die Nonnen (The Nuns) opus 112 with large orchestra?

The Hundredth Psalm is pretty good too.

Here is the Composer while yet a Youth; what a distinctive Hair-style he sported!
Rule 1: assiduously address the what not the whom! Rule 2: shun bad language! Rule 3: do not deviate! Rule 4: be as pleasant as you can!

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2008, 08:34:54 AM »
I have always liked Reger's late chamber music. The string quartets from nr 3 onwards, the clarinte quintet, there's a great string sextet too, if I recall, and a beautiful violin sonata.

My experience however is mentioning Reger isn't the best way to make friends and influence people. His fugal finales can be punishing.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2008, 08:38:36 AM »
I have always liked Reger's late chamber music. The string quartets from nr 3 onwards, the clarinte quintet, there's a great string sextet too, if I recall, and a beautiful violin sonata.

My experience however is mentioning Reger isn't the best way to make friends and influence people. His fugal finales can be punishing.

Oh dear! So starting this thread has not done wonders for my social life? :) :)

bwv 1080

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2008, 08:38:58 AM »
I have always liked Reger's late chamber music. The string quartets from nr 3 onwards, the clarinte quintet, there's a great string sextet too, if I recall, and a beautiful violin sonata.

My experience however is mentioning Reger isn't the best way to make friends and influence people. His fugal finales can be punishing.

Welcome back Herman

I would recommend for anyone this as a first foray into Reger's piano music - if you wind up not liking the Reger, there is a stunning performance of Schumann's Humoreske:

http://www.naxosdirect.com/title/8.220408

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2008, 08:48:07 AM »
My daughter got off my lap, allowing me to check the violin sonata. It's in C minor, Op 139.

I'd say it's one of the best ways to access Reger (stunning slow mvt), along with the clarinet quintet, and the Mozart Variations for orchestra.

Thanks for the welcome, bwv

Online vandermolen

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2008, 09:20:30 AM »
I love the Tone poems after Boecklin, especially the Old Hermit and the Isle of the Dead (just as effective as Rachmaninov's piece based on the same painting). I am not so keen on the last piece..a kind of beer-drinking song!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Martin Lind

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2008, 11:37:19 AM »
I know some Reger pieces. The Hiller Variations, the Mozart Variations, the Romantic Suite. I really like the Mozart variations - it has a good tune but this is from Mozart. I know too little to have a good judgment about Reger. My first impression is that he was an enourmesly talented composer who still could not write a good tune or invent interesting melodical material to construct a really great work of music. Therefore he is admired but rarely loved. But as I said, I can't judge him properly, I should have known him better for a really fair judgement.

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2008, 12:29:38 PM »
My first impression is that he was an enourmesly talented composer who still could not write a good tune or invent interesting melodical material to construct a really great work of music.

Spitting image of Beethoven.

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2008, 12:39:40 PM »
Spitting image of Beethoven.

The hell, Beethoven is one of the greatest tunesmith in existence.  ???

karlhenning

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2008, 12:46:53 PM »
Spitting image of Beethoven.

Well observed!

karlhenning

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2008, 12:48:45 PM »
The hell, Beethoven is one of the greatest tunesmith in existence.  ???

He is a brilliant manager of snippets far oftener than a great melodist.  Nothing wrong with that (and anyway, as we've observed many times before, "a great melody" means different things according to era and place).

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2008, 01:13:42 PM »
The hell, Beethoven is one of the greatest tunesmith in existence.  ???

Sorry, friend, but (as Karl apparently would agree) Beethoven's genius is about manipulating motivs to the nth degree. Not melodies.

Compared to, say, Mozart, Schubert or Tchaikovsky, there are very few real melodies in Beethoven, and often they are rather banal. Come to think of it, even Reger would be a more sophisticated melodist than Beethoven.

mn dave

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2008, 01:19:54 PM »
Well, if a "riff" is a motif or snippet, he had some damn good riffs.

karlhenning

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Re: Max Reger (1873-1916)
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2008, 01:21:19 PM »
I think of a riff more as an ostinato, rather than as a motif or snippet.