Author Topic: Max Reger(1873-1916)  (Read 28714 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #200 on: July 19, 2020, 06:16:17 AM »
much better idea to get a couple of recordings and enjoy the music as music.

Well, I’ve got a good bit of Reger on disc (several box sets and single issues), but I’m not sure about the enjoying part just yet. ;)
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Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #201 on: July 19, 2020, 10:09:46 AM »
The last part sounds like a typical ol' time "That's what my wife said last night" bad joke.

https://interlude.hk/always-trust-mother-law-max-elsa-reger/

The link explains a lot about the dour faces on pictures of the Regers.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2020, 11:29:31 AM by Herman »

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #202 on: July 20, 2020, 09:07:56 AM »
Any opinion/info on these albums?
Thinking about buying them.
Thanks.

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #203 on: July 22, 2020, 08:56:40 AM »
My GF is getting rather used to the sound of Reger's piano concerto coming from my study, because I'm still listening.

However, I've also been getting into the two big orchestral variation pieces, Hiller (op 100) and Mozart (op 132).

The Hiller Variations are larger and longer; the Mozart Variations are, of course, on the famous tune from Mozart's piano sonata in A minor. Both feature humor, a stunningly beautiful slow movement / variation with gorgeous long melodic lines in intricately divided string sections (sometimes divided in six just for the violins I and II) and a great fugue as the final movement.

The best recordings, as far as I can tell are in both works by Sir Colin Davis and the BRSO. I have no idea whether these still can be had.

There's a first-rate live performance of the Mozart Variations by the Frankfurt Rundfunk, cond Peter Eötvös, on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tflcg4yymr4&t=98s
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 03:54:00 AM by Herman »

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #204 on: August 07, 2020, 01:06:42 AM »
Maybe I'm getting to be a bore, but I'm still listening to Reger's big orchestral variations.

The Mozart Variations may be the more perfect piece, exactly as long as it should be, but the Hiller Variations have huge attractions too. There's a kind of ribald humor in the piece, kind of a family resemblance to Beethoven's Diabellis. However, there's also two slow movements in the Hillers, first a typical Reger yearning hymn andante in 2/4+3/4 meter in A major and towards the end a big Andante in E major with great strings - winds contrasts and amazing chromatic lines hoovering the music ever upwards. Also, the concluding fugue is relatively simple, ending in a giant held E chord rivalling the end to Mahler 3.

Offline André

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #205 on: August 07, 2020, 04:31:44 AM »
I love the Hiller Variations, more than the Mozart ones actually. There’s a fantastical element that I find very fetching.

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #206 on: August 07, 2020, 07:53:26 AM »
I love the Hiller Variations, more than the Mozart ones actually. There’s a fantastical element that I find very fetching.

at the mo I would agree, since the Hillers have been in my cd-player for more than a week now.

I love the  as if classical-ness of the Mozart Variations  -  with, mind you, a whole bit of churning Wagnerian chromaticism in the slow variation  -  and perhaps the concluding fugue is just a tad better.

However the Hillers have this same wild, crazy deep-in-the-night sound world as the piano concerto. They are op 100 and op 101.

The orchestration in both of these variation suites is just do die for. No triangle or other funny sound effects, just the technical mastery of mixing instrument groups and dividing instrument groups infinitely. Sometimes all the string groups are divided up, and you have four different lines in the violins alone.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #207 on: August 07, 2020, 02:11:03 PM »
at the mo I would agree, since the Hillers have been in my cd-player for more than a week now.

I love the  as if classical-ness of the Mozart Variations  -  with, mind you, a whole bit of churning Wagnerian chromaticism in the slow variation  -  and perhaps the concluding fugue is just a tad better.

However the Hillers have this same wild, crazy deep-in-the-night sound world as the piano concerto. They are op 100 and op 101.

The orchestration in both of these variation suites is just do die for. No triangle or other funny sound effects, just the technical mastery of mixing instrument groups and dividing instrument groups infinitely. Sometimes all the string groups are divided up, and you have four different lines in the violins alone.

The way you describe the Piano Concerto makes it sound appealing. Is there a recording you particularly like?

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #208 on: August 07, 2020, 06:23:56 PM »
I have Oppitz and the Bamberger Orchestra. But Hamelin seems to be fine, too.

Offline schnittkease

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Reger's famous quote
« Reply #209 on: October 11, 2020, 09:43:59 PM »
Even if they don't know his music, most people are familiar with Reger's famous letter to music theorist and critic Rudolf Louis following a negative review:

Quote from: Reger
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me."

But no one seems to talk about the actual review. This got me curious, and it didn't take too long to find out that it was published on February 7, 1906 in the newspaper Münchner neueste Nachrichten following a performance of Reger's Sinfonietta, Op. 90. Finding the full review was trickier, but thankfully German libraries seem to love scanning their historical journals/newspaper and uploading them online... great! Since I don't speak German, I had to translate the whole damn thing with Google and a bit of "filling in the blanks." Anyways, here it is. Run-on sentences and references to obscure fin de siècle stuff incoming!

Quote from: Rudolf Louis
"After the lesser event, that was undoubtedly signified by the performance of Debussy's String Quartet, followed on the next day the great event, the first Munich performance of Sinfonietta by Max Reger, who has this — but only this — in common with Debussy: that he has been nominated by the verbal leaders of the anti-Wagnerian reaction to carry the banner as the proper Man of the Future. The Sinfonietta, the composer's first major orchestral work, achieved a brilliant success at its premiere in Essen, was then more or less harshly rejected in Berlin and Vienna, and finally found a reception in Stuttgart that was somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Therefore, one had to be all the more curious to get to know this controversial, as well as highly praised and abysmally damned creation for oneself. If you had not heard or read anything about the work before its performance, you would have been in for a surprise. For the designation "Sinfonietta" suggests something small and delicate, a diminutive or miniature symphony, perhaps something like the two Trios, Op. 70 [sic.]. What we instead have in front of us in Reger's Op. 90 is a dense score of 244 pages (Bruckner's most extensive symphonic score, that of the VIII., is — albeit in a slightly larger format — not much more than half as long), and in this voluminous vessel "a lavish wealth of musical and thematic design, as hardly any other modern score should have." (Dr. Eugen Schmitz, Max Reger's Sinfonietta, Munich and Leipzig with Georg Müller.) Under these circumstances, a modesty seems to come to light in this "shameful" title, the authenticity of which is somewhat discredited precisely because it is so completely out of place. For what the aforementioned Dr. Schmitz, in justifying the name Sinfonietta, teaches — "Sinfonietta" relates to “symphony” like “comedy” to “tragedy" (!!) and the designation chosen by Reger indicates the "essentially harmless and light thought-content of his work” — is probably too logically and etymologically abominable to be taken seriously. Yes, even the “restriction in the use of orchestral means” for which the Sinfonietta is acclaimed by those who, understandably, find it quite difficult to make a musician like Reger the champion of the longed-for return to simplicity and simpleness, is not too great. That Reger writes only two woodwind parts each, in contrast to the modern triple woodwind, is amply compensated by the fact that he (according to the score) may wish to double the instrumentation of these instruments, and from the normal modern orchestra he lacks only the third trumpet and a bass tuba. No, this Sinfonietta is certainly not simple, and it can be compared, even if only "from the broadest possible point of view," with Wolf-Ferrari's [1903 comic opera] Le donne curiose, just like that Dr. Schmitz does with enviable confidence in the lack of judgment of those to whom he speaks. Of course, one thing cannot be misunderstood: Reger has manifestly wished it to be simple. But it remained just wishing; he has been unable to carry out his intention. The intent for simplicity is revealed above all in the themes of the Sinfonietta, whose motivic material leaves nothing to be desired in terms of "spiritual harmlessness." But the fact that this thought-material, which weighs so lightly in itself, is exaggerated by means of hypertrophic counterpoint, as it is characteristic of Reger, to a large musical pomp and circumstance, brings an insoluble conflict into the work, and it is almost amusing when you see that Reger has made the same mistake which his admirers — and certainly not wrongly — accuse the representatives of modern program music: namely that he serves us a dish in which the broth is more expensive than the chunks [German idiom meaning that the additional costs are higher than the thing itself; the benefit is small when one considers the disadvantages; despite the great effort, the result is unsatisfactory], a product in which the "presentation" is the main thing. From a general impression that the Sinfonietta, even compared to other compositions by Reger, is not inherently a significant work, that its tonal language essentially depends on conjuring up the illusion of significance by a thousand contrapuntal, harmonic, and modulatory tricks, the sole exception from this general impression is the Larghetto. The short two-part motif on which it is based is, however, only a harmonic, not a melodic one, and is also very reminiscent of Brahms; but it has a peculiar charm, its implementation structures the movement in a clear manner, and we have here much less of the unpleasant sensation that someone, placing full faith in the psychological phenomenon of suggestive power, as so delightfully illustrated in the well known fairy tale "Talisman" dramatized by [Ludwig] Fulda, is taking us for fools. Incidentally, there is no lack of bright spots, especially in the Scherzo (Trio), even in the last movement, which is otherwise the greatest of all. It goes without saying with Reger that the work is interesting, that it reveals an abundance of spirit, wit, and astonishing combinations, as well as with regard to the compositional ability demands the highest respect, even admiration. On the other hand, the orchestration is rather less pleasing because it is completely devoid of tonal stimuli, in that it very often denigrates, even blurs, the melodic lines rather than working them out in a sharp and sculptural way.

"The reception by the audience was divided: a strong one? A minority clapped enthusiastically and persistently, the majority behaved neutrally, a few hissed, and occasionally someone, by going crazy, tried to prove his good musical taste, or his lack of lifestyle. Felix Mottl, who had already conducted the work at the premiere in Essen, placed all his eminent conducting skill at the service of the novelty, which, meticulously rehearsed, was perfectly rendered. Only the tempo of the Larghetto should have been a little livelier in the sense of the composer's instruction ("but not dragging"), even at the risk that details would have lost their clarity. Like the conductor, honor and fame also belong to the orchestra itself, which fulfilled its difficult and strenuous task with devotional zeal. The beautiful execution of violin solos in the slow movement by Herr Concertmaster [Bruno] Ahner deserves special mention."

... and there it is. Hopefully someone found that interesting. The Sinfonietta is not one of my favorite Reger works, so I tend to agree with most of Louis' points. The idea that "light" themes are incompatible with rigorous development has obviously been thrown out the window by Schnittke, Ligeti, and others, but I doubt that Reger was going for something quite so polystylistic/sardonic! A noble failure, then.

As a side note, I suppose Louis wasn't the most progressive of thinkers: he didn't like Mahler's music for its "Jewishness" (*sigh*) and was appalled by Pierrot lunaire. Oh, well.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2020, 09:48:54 PM by schnittkease »

Offline Scion7

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #210 on: October 12, 2020, 01:14:29 AM »
^ so that tells you something about following anything he has to say critically.
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline schnittkease

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #211 on: October 12, 2020, 08:30:03 AM »
^ so that tells you something about following anything he has to say critically.

I think it's very interesting to see what contemporary critics had to say. Just because they had a completely different perspective than us doesn't mean their opinions are any less "right" (unless downright anti-Semetic, of course). I especially like reading reviews of Brahms by 19th-century critics; they don't deify the composer as is common today.

Offline Herman

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #212 on: October 13, 2020, 01:09:20 AM »
The extreme partisan nature of music reviewing in that era makes it sometimes less than useful.

It's only natural, but at the time critics felt they had to make two-way choices (either Brahms or Wagner / Bruckner) etc and that meant if they chose for the other camp they focused on the bad things of, in this case, Reger.

Offline Scion7

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #213 on: October 13, 2020, 01:30:41 AM »
I especially like reading reviews of Brahms by 19th-century critics; they don't deify the composer as is common today.

If one is reading the critics in Brahms corner at the time, they were very complimentary of his music - no one more than Schumann, of course.  The problem with the whole Brahms vs. Wagner silliness was a lot of great music was trashed in the press, which took decades to correct.
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline Jo498

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #214 on: October 13, 2020, 01:39:05 AM »
Schumann overlapped only with the very young Brahms befor the factions of the "conservatives" and the "Neudeutsche" had really formed, so he is hardly a good example for deifying anyone. He was also most of the time quite generous in his reviews towards music that was puzzling or irritating to him, overall certainly one of the nicer and more balanced critics in the history of music criticism.
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Offline schnittkease

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #215 on: October 13, 2020, 08:22:22 AM »
The extreme partisan nature of music reviewing in that era makes it sometimes less than useful.

It's only natural, but at the time critics felt they had to make two-way choices (either Brahms or Wagner / Bruckner) etc and that meant if they chose for the other camp they focused on the bad things of, in this case, Reger.

Wasn't the "War of the Romantics" practically over by 1906? I know for a fact that this critic in particular valued both Brahms and Wagner/Bruckner.

If one is reading the critics in Brahms corner at the time, they were very complimentary of his music - no one more than Schumann, of course.  The problem with the whole Brahms vs. Wagner silliness was a lot of great music was trashed in the press, which took decades to correct.

I was reading a review by Hermann Zopff of Brahms' Piano Quintet in the NZM. Zopff was an advocate of the New German School, but he recognizes Op. 34 as a highly important work. He's not entirely complimentary, of course, but the criticism isn't baseless. No piece of music is ever "perfect," after all.

Offline Scion7

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #216 on: October 13, 2020, 07:39:02 PM »
Excuse me?  Wherever did that idea come from??

Brahms wrote many masterpieces that changing anything about them would have been a disaster.
Monkey with Beethoven's 7th or 9th?  Or the late piano sonatas or late string quartets?  Sacrilege.
Bach's Goldberg Variations?  Mozart's last three symphonies?
Mahler's 'Song of the Earth'??

There are many great pieces of music that are, indeed, perfect.
When the voice of God speaks through gifted people, let us be humbled!
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #217 on: October 14, 2020, 02:41:57 AM »
I have never gotten into Reger. He is supposed to be a counterpuntal composer, but the only Reger disc I own:


doesn't show much counterpoint to my ears. Instead it's pretty anemic and boring chamber music. I guess Reger only uses counterpoint in his organ music? What are the most counterpuntal works of Reger? Where should I go to give Reger a fair second chance?
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #218 on: October 14, 2020, 03:08:40 AM »
I have never gotten into Reger. He is supposed to be a counterpuntal composer, but the only Reger disc I own:


doesn't show much counterpoint to my ears. Instead it's pretty anemic and boring chamber music. I guess Reger only uses counterpoint in his organ music? What are the most counterpuntal works of Reger? Where should I go to give Reger a fair second chance?

Listening to the samples for 5 seconds, I'm definitely hearing some interesting counterpoint here. Maybe try again?

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Max Reger(1873-1916)
« Reply #219 on: October 14, 2020, 03:44:00 AM »
Listening to the samples for 5 seconds, I'm definitely hearing some interesting counterpoint here. Maybe try again?

I did and still not hearing it. Maybe I am expecting Bachian counterpoint. I also have this:


Maybe I just don't care about Reger's counterpoint?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2020, 03:47:20 AM by 71 dB »
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Yin Yang"