will know how closely tied was the ‘Reger generation’ of
instrumentalists to his chamber music. One needn’t look
much farther than Adolf Busch or the Klingler Quartet for
firsthand evidence of the permanence they attached to the
composer’s chamber works.
the Klingler’s mid-1930s recording of the Reger string
trio promoted in this Naxos release by members of the Aperto
Piano Quartet has been reissued on Testament. As usual
comparisons prove fruitful, not least because in its earlier
incarnation the Klingler was busily active - and recording – during
the later part of Reger’s life. The Aperto play with luxuriant
warmth whilst the old Klingler espoused a far nervier,
edgier, more staccato-based sound world. In their hands
Reger sounds more unsettled and unsettling. The less uncomfortable
and more inherently unstable picture is not a reflection
of more limited technical standards, though theirs was,
by this time, a rather old fashioned sound in the light
of their more up to date contemporaries. The important
thing, I think, is the ‘alto’ character of the music making
as against the richer, darker more homogenised almost cellistic
patina espoused by the Aperto and by most modern ensembles.
they deal with the work’s Mozartean aspects well – in particular
its fluency and suppleness. The fluidity of metre, changes
of mood, alternately tempestuous and refined are also well
explored. There are some finely and acutely judged dynamics
in the second movement and the relative pensiveness of
some of the writing falls well on the ear by virtue of
the excellent ensemble work and intonation. The lightness
and ease of the Mozartian finale – judicious pizzicati,
gallant flourishes – are also adeptly done. It makes the
charge of Reger’s contemporaries that this trio was a clearly
retrogressive ‘joke’, all the more baseless.
Piano Quartet followed in 1910, a work inspired by Reger
having heard a performance of Brahms’s C minor Piano Quartet.
There’s some strenuous passagework in the powerful Allegro
moderato first movement and whilst there are moments of
lyric reprieve the spirit generally is moody and resigned.
Big boned dynamism reigns in the scherzo, a touch unwieldy
sounding, though it does also sport a reflective B section.
The heart of such feelings is contained in the communing
and expressive slow movement, whilst the finale is volatile,
voluble and flecked with Regerian humour – still a strenuous
kind, of course.
String Trio was recorded in the Siemensvilla, Berlin-Lankwitz
in what sounds like quite a big acoustic. The Studio recording
for the Quintet is less enveloping.
see also review of Volume 2 (8.570786) by Kevin Sutton