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Max REGER (1873-1916)
Chorale Fantasia on "Wie schön leucht uns der Morgenstern" (How brightly shines the morning star), Op. 40, No. 1
Organ Pieces, Op. 59, Nos. 7-9
Introduction and Passacaglia in F minor, Op. 63
Organ Pieces, Op. 59, Nos. 10-12
Chorale Fantasia on "Halleluja! Gott zu loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud!" (May the praise of God remain my soulís joy!), Op. 52, No. 3
Josef Still (organ)
Played and recorded on the Johannes Klais Organ (of 1974) of the Trier Cathedral, Germany, on 21-22 October, 2001.
Organ Works Volume Four
NAXOS 8.555905 [76:33]

 

This Naxos release should dispel two widely-held critical misconceptions about Max Regerís music. The first to be eliminated is that it uses only limited resources of harmony and rhythm. Secondly, far from being dense and challengingly complex, his music can be immensely stimulating, packed with tonal colour. I see the Bavarian-born Reger as the greatest German composer of organ music since J.S. Bach and this Naxos series should support his rehabilitation back to prominence in the German Romantic school.

Reger composed in several genres apart from opera, concentrating principally on keyboard and smaller-scale works. Although Reger successfully wrote some larger-scale choral works he was thirty-five before he first completed an orchestral work.

The most substantial pieces on this release are the Chorale Fantasias How brightly shines the morning star and May the praise of God remain my soulís joy! At eighteen and fifteen minutes respectively these never seem overlong, although much of that is attributable to the magnificent sound of the Klais organ and Josef Stillís impeccable playing. The other works on this disc reveal themselves as genuine gems. The Introduction and Passacaglia is an inventive set of variations remarkable for reprocessing a long-established form. The Six Organ Pieces No. 7-12 are concise, rich and varied works that offer substantial rewards.

Regerís colourful organ works abound in quality and interest with German-born Josef Stillís technically assured performances being exemplary throughout. The superb recorded sound is warm and detailed. This Naxos release is a strong recommendation at any price.

Michael Cookson

see also review by Patrick Gary



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