MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Max REGER (1873-1916)
Choral Works
Der Einsiedler op.144a (1915) [11:41]
Drei sechsstimmige Chore op.39 (1899) [13:33]
Drei Chore op.6 (1892) [13:04]
Drei Gesänge op.111b [7:37]
Palmsonntagmorgen (1902) [5:35]
Requiem op.144b (1916) [14:50]
Alexander Learmonth (baritone); Alice Gribbin (soprano); Christopher Glynn (piano)
Consortium/Andrew-John Smith
rec.   September 2009, St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
HYPERION CDA67762 [66:22]
Sound Samples

Experience Classicsonline

A wonderful disc this, and a testament to yet another undervalued dimension of the artistry of Max Reger. Very few of the common complaints about Reger's music apply here: the music is consistently inspired, often light, elegant and wholly free from the stodginess that blights so many of his organ works. The broad theme of the compilation is secular choral music, but all that really means is that none of the music is specifically liturgical. Religious themes certainly make themselves felt, and the music moves between states of devotion, veneration and praise. A few of the poems that Reger sets are genuinely secular, those of Nikolas Lenau for example, and Gustav Falke, but a strong devotional undercurrent flows even through these works. It is a religious feeling borne out of a complete absence of irony, and for a composer working in the age of Mahler and Richard Strauss, the self-imposed seriousness of this aesthetic almost seems to have been transplanted from an earlier age. But while he is always serious, he is never dour.
Stylistically, the most important predecessor to this music is Brahms, and you could be forgiven for occasionally mistaking individual passages here for some of Brahms' early choral works. But then you'll meet an unusual harmonic shift or a flowery piano interpolation that clearly belongs to a later time. Generally though, Reger's approach to choral writing is to use simple harmonies and homophonic textures, but to regularly jump between only distantly related harmonies, often several times within the span of a single phrase. The only exception to Reger's stylistic conventions is the 'Drei Gesänge' Op.111b for unaccompanied women's voices. Here the musical textures are even more simple, and the sound-world tends towards the medieval. This level of musical simplicity really brings out the best in Reger, he wasn't much of a melodist, yet there is a lyricism to much of his music that can really carry these simple, straightforward textures.
Reger died young and the last year or two of his life were extraordinarily prolific. There seem to be many, many works - orchestral, piano, chamber, organ - that are habitually described as amongst his very last. The two major choral works that frame this programme, 'Der Einsiedler' and 'Requiem' apparently qualify too. Together they make up his Op.144 out of a total of 147, suggesting they are indeed very late. The music of both works is almost mystical in its use of widely spaced chords, unusual harmonic shifts and dreamy arpeggios in the accompaniment. The most interesting of the two is 'Requiem', a kind of abbreviated response to Brahms' 'German Requiem', with many stylistic links. Reger's Requiem is a term with complex textual issues. He began a setting of the Requiem mass in his younger years, but it remains incomplete, the fragments having the misleading opus number 145a. The Requiem that appears here is not a liturgical setting but rather a setting of a poem with the same name by Christian Friedrich Hebbel. To complicate matters further, this Requiem (and 'Der Einsiedler' too) were written for choir with orchestral accompaniment, but Reger's version with piano accompaniment predominates these days, to the extent that the work is played at all.
The performances are all good. The choir 'Consortium' doesn't have a very inspiring name, but is an impressive ensemble. This is only their second disc, their first being an album of Brahms songs (Hyperion CDA67775), to which this should provide the ideal complement. The sound of the sopranos at the very top is sometimes a little abrasive, although I'm more inclined to blame the composer for his repeated use of the upper register than the singers for the occasional brittleness of texture. The choir is small, which aids the articulation and tuning, but sometimes makes for underpowered climaxes. Given that the Op.144 works were written with a full symphony orchestra in mind, the composer's intention must surely have been for a choir at least twice this size. But the music is flexible and retains its symphonic grandeur even in this more intimate environment. Not that it is all pseudo-symphonic; the other works on the disc, especially the 'Drei Gesänge' demonstrate the directness and simplicity that characterises much of Reger's music. It is a surprisingly varied programme, and an impressively performed disc. Any fans of Brahms' choral music would be well advised to take a chance on it.
Gavin Dixon






Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.