'I consider him a genius' said Schoenberg
'Reger ought to be performed often. 1. Because he wrote a great deal; 2. Because he is already dead and we do not yet have a clear picture of him (I consider him a genius).'Genius may be a devalued epithet, but when it is used by Arnold Schoenberg, here writing to Zemlinsky in 1922, take notice. Corroboration of Schoenberg's view comes in an imaginative new 2CD release from acclaimed violinist Sayaka Shoji. This matches Max Reger's three Preludes and Fugues with the Bach sonata and partitas that inspired them. In addition to making a persuasive case for Reger the glorious bloom of sound captured in la Chapelle de l'Enfant Jésus, Paris is a salutary reminder that digital and believable are not mutually exclusive. An insightful trilingual sleeve note by Gilles Cantagrel points out that while Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler and Strauss have found international recognition Reger is little known outside Germany. This is confirmed by that useful litmus test the BBC Proms database, which documents just twelve performances of Reger's music in 117 years. Talking of which, Sayaka Shoji's Bach and Reger are on the French Mirare label, as is a recording of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony by the African Canadian conductor Kwamé Ryan. Now read about where Reger is ranked alongside Gustav Mahler, Paul Dessau, Carl Zelter and Albert Lortzing.
Also on Facebook and Twitter. Sayaka Shoji's recording of Bach and Reger was bought in Leclerc, Saint Gilles, France. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
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There is no lack of them, of course: Markus Becker has recorded the complete works for piano on twelve CDs for Thorofon, and also the cello sonatas. Hamelin has recorded Opp. 81 and 134, and also the concerto. (Perhaps one day someone will transcend the astonishing Hamelin in some way or other, but I wager he'll always be the only pianist who recorded both Max Reger and Donald Swann -- "Have some Madeira..."). I see that Becker has now joined Hyperion, the label of Hamelin also.
The final sentence of John's, as always, stimulating comment bears investigation and thinking about. There is an unmentioned crucial link there, and it reminded me of a pianist of some distinction to whom I mentioned that I had studied with Webern's last pupil (and protege of that most musical of artists, Vasily Kandinsky), and so 'brought up' on Bach, Schoenberg, and Webern. She thought that most peculiar, which led me to think she may have been playing hookey during the musicology classes.