The more Reger, the better. Not often you hear that, but the more
Reger I hear, the more I want. And Naxos is just the company to provide the goods.
A minor Piano Quartet is a remarkably tender work. The expansive
first movement includes some fraught passages, it is true, but
the lasting impression is one of melancholy, densely expressed
music. The string writing is active and, in this performance,
highly expressive. There is little let-up from the overarching
intensity. The piece finds excellent interpreters in the Aperto
Piano Quartet. Frank-Immo Zichner is a superb pianist. His name
was not known to me prior to hearing the present performance.
Scherzo, marked “Vivace” is mischievous in the extreme, contrasting
with the ghostly Largo con gran espressione which, around the two minute mark,
threatens to disappear, textures get so thin and emaciated.
Anguished string recitatives project the “gran espressione”
part of the movement’s tempo/mood indicator. The Aperto Piano
Quartet projects the emotions well, just as it captures the
staccato play of the finale: “Allegro con spirito”. There is
much that is post-Brahmsian here in the more angst-ridden moments,
although Reger does not let in the light as Brahms might occasionally
D minor String Trio dates from 1904. It exhales altogether fresher
air than its companion here, although the first movement does
threaten to move towards the dense at one point. The central
“Andante molto sostenuto con variazioni” is a delight – one
can justifiably sit back and revel in Reger’s easy invention.
After two movements each just under nine minutes duration, the
finale is a mere 3:19.
It is probably the closest Reger gets to sunny.
I would rather have this String Trio as the coupling to Op.
133 than a sequence of Violin Duos: the Three Duos, Op.
131b, to be precise, a collection of canons or fugues,
as is the case over on Dabringhaus und Grimm, MDG 336 0714-2.
notes, by Susanne Popp, are confusing. She spends a whole page
and a half discussing another piano quartet by Reger (the D
minor, Op. 113) before finally lighting on the A minor, Op.
133. Then she discusses the String Trio in A minor, Op. 77b
in some detail before giving a final nod in the direction of
the piece we actually hear, the D minor, Op. 141b. I
thought at first Naxos
had inserted the wrong notes, but the catalogue numbers of the
recordings of the (other) pieces she discusses are given in
brackets. Has Naxos used all-purpose
notes for two releases? I have not seen Volume 1 of this series
of “Complete String Trios and Piano Quartets”, of which the
present issue is Volume 2. Whether this is the case or not,
the notes do not make for comfortable reading. According to
Popp, Reger said of the String Trio Op. 131b “the work
is really good” - meaningful and insightful, not. She then calls
it “genuine Reger” - actually her quotation marks, and
I have no idea why she used them. She certainly does not define
her term or justify her appellation of the Trio as the real
is a bonus, however, or perhaps a reward for surviving the booklet
notes, a download - which I did indeed download. It is the delightful
finale to Reinecke’s Sextet, Op. 271 for wind, from Naxos 8.570777 and played, so my iTunes tells me, by
members of the Boston Symphony. Also featured on the disc is
the intriguingly titled Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe,
Op. 202, arranged for flute and piano by Ernesto Kohler. The
performance of the Sextet finale is splendid. I hope the booklet
notes are better for that release, though.
see also Review
by Kevin Sutton