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String Quartet Op 109 & Clarinet Quintet Op 146a
Vogler String Quartet/Karl Leister (clarinet)
Nimbus NI5644
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One of my earliest chamber music acquisitions was this Reger string quartet and, noticing its reappearance, my recall brought up a picture of the plum-label 78s and that they had been made by the Strub Quartet, of whom I never heard otherwise. I was delighted to read in IRR later that Robert Layton, who must be of my generation, had a similar recall, still had those 78s and so was even able to give the HMV-EH record numbers!

This Eb quartet is a good example of late Reger, lusciously romantic, very chromatic, with all the themes worked out contrapuntally, and a particularly attractive final fugue in which he demonstrates his expertise. Played repeatedly when I was a student, the music came back to me immediately more than fifty years on, which must say something for it. The Clarinet Quintet, Reger's last, autumnal, work (composed during the War in 1915/16) makes an ideal partner, with clarinet and strings blending beautifully.

Both performances are affectionate, without being over-intense, and satisfactorily recorded, though it is all a bit too well cushioned for my taste - you scarcely hear the rasp of hair on gut (or their modern equivalents). Indulgent music by today's prevailing taste, maybe, but Reger's craftsmanship is impeccable and it makes a good nostalgic listen to times that are past and were already changing in 1916.


Peter Grahame Woolf

See also review by Colin Anderson *****


Peter Grahame Woolf

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