Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

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

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



Sound Samples & Downloads

Max REGER (1873-1916)
Complete Works for Cello and Piano
Aria for cello and piano (from the Suite in A minor Op.103a) [5:31]
Romanze in A minor [2:46]
Caprice in B minor Op.79e no.1 [1:59]
Herzenstausch Op.76 no.5 [1:27]
Wenn die Linde blüht Op.76 no.4 [1:15]
Mariä Wiegenlied Op. 76, 52 [2:12]
Caprice in A minor [1:14]
Kleine Romanze Op.79e.2 [1:34]
Romanze in G major [1:27]
Wiegenlied Op.79d.1 [1:39]
Sonata for Cello and Piano No.1 Op.5 [23:20]
Sonata for Cello and Piano No.2 Op.28 [22:47]
Sonata for Cello and Piano No.3 Op.78 [38:29]
Sonata for Cello and Piano No.4 Op.116 [37:26]
Cello Suite in G major Op.131c no.1 [14:07]
Cello Suite in D minor Op.131c no.2 [22:31]
Cello Suite in A minor Op.131c no.3 [22:20]
Symphonishce Fantasie Op.57 (transcription for cello and piano by Robert Engl) [10:24]
Alexandre Kniazev (cello)
Édouard Oganessian (piano)
rec. Sonatas: Aulnay-sous-Bois 1997, rest recorded L'Église Saint-Marcel à Paris, August 2008 and May 2009. Stereo. DDD
SAPHIR PRODUCTIONS LVC 001103 [3 CDs: 74:01 + 76:01 + 69:00]

Experience Classicsonline

The works on these discs fall into three broad categories: short character pieces (many of them transcriptions), long, involved sonatas, and suites for solo cello. There is a certain unity of intent that unites all of Reger's work, but the overriding impression here is of contrast between the three groups. The short pieces are elegant and lyrical, light but never trivial. The sonatas, in contrast, are archetypal Reger; they are heavy, densely textured and, provided you are into Reger, among his most profound and deeply felt works. The solo cello suites balance this late Romantic existential angst with the economical style of Bach. On paper this might seem like a paradoxical combination, but in practise it turns out to be a very practical approach.

If the short works that begin the first disc seem surprisingly lyrical for Reger, that is because most are arrangements of his Op.76 set of lieder. We are very much in Brahms territory here, and like Brahms, Reger has no qualms about simplifying his harmonic style as the situation requires. Personally, I'm more a fan of Reger's heavier work, but this first half a disc or so provides a gentle introduction to the more meaty fare ahead. The playing is beautiful, and the lighter textures give both players a chance to really shine. Much of this music employs the higher register of the cello with just simple piano accompaniments beneath. The elegance of Alexandre Kniazev's tone in the upper register is the key factor in the success of these works, and his almost vocal sense of phrasing really helps to articulate the form of these short movements.

About half way through the first disc we meet the first of Reger's Cello Sonatas and immediately we are plunged into a darker and more troubled musical world. I'll confess that these works take some getting used to, but they repay, and deserve, repeated listening. They are psychologically turbulent in a way that many of Reger's German-speaking contemporaries - and I'm thinking particularly of the Second Viennese School - aimed for but only occasionally achieved. There are many moments of brief repose from the swirling textures, but these only emphasise the complexity and trauma of the surrounding music. The four sonatas span Reger's short creative career, the first has Op. 5 the last Op. 116, and they can really be heard as a progression. Intense drama is present from the first note of the First Sonata, but it isn't until the Third and Fourth Sonatas that Reger's approach to the genre crystallises.

Kniazev and Oganessian give excellent readings of these works. Almost every movement of each of the sonatas is long and complex, and for an interpretation to be a success, the players must immerse themselves and their audience into the sound-worlds, which is exactly what happens. Most of the tempos are on the slow side, which may be in an attempt to provide clarity to the dense textures in the piano part, although that is surely a futile aim. As with the shorter pieces earlier on, the structural shape is always secured by Kniazev's thoughtful and expansive approach to the phasing. And however much the players try to elucidate Reger's textures, there are always going to be passages where chaos reins. Unlike in the shorter works, Reger rarely separates the cello out by writing in its higher register. So it is often the case that dense, harmonically ambitious, contrapuntal textures in the piano run in parallel to mid or low range writing in the cello. To the players' credit, they don't try to fight it, and the gloomy, muddy textures that result have their own kind of inexplicable beauty.

If all that sounds a bit masochistic, relief comes in the form of some truly beautiful slow movements. They are not all exempt from Reger's megalomaniac tendencies. In fact, they work best when they are at their most involved. For me, the highlight of this set is the largo third movement to the Op.116 Sonata. Here we have long, heartfelt melodies, played out over harmonically complex but texturally straightforward piano textures. Again, the performers take it slow, but their aim here is atmosphere rather than clarity. It comes in at almost 14 minutes, quite a contrast to the Gerhard Mantel/Erika Frieser recording of 1972 (Da Capo 77 503 – dreadful, avoid at all costs) which clocks in at 9 minutes. At this slower pace, Reger's many moments of repose have a dreamy, transcendental quality that really elevates proceedings.

There is little, if any, transcendence in the Cello Suites Op.131c. The model here is Bach, but the relationship with Bach's Cello Suites is complex. Reger occasionally veers towards outright pastiche or even quotation, but the music always remains distinctively Reger. Even with just one player, he still manages a sense of density, of expression rather than texture. The music could easily become leaden in lesser hands, but Kniazev really knows how to bring it to life. His technique is very 'Russian' in the sense that he creates an almost tactile quality to his sound. Everything is very definite, yet there is plenty of subtly, variation and nuance too. I doubt he would play Bach like this, or at least Bach's Cello Suites could struggle under the intensity of this approach. Not Reger though, he is able to withstand this intensity and focused concentration. The Romantic reading highlights the stylistic distance between Reger and Bach, although the Bachian figurations still make the composer's allegiances clear.

On the whole, the sound quality is very good. I noticed one instance of peak distortion, on the last note of the Caprice in A minor. There is also some extraneous noise on the third disc, which may be Kniazev breathing. The textures on the second disc (Sonatas Three and Four) are more congested than elsewhere, but that is as much Reger's fault as anybody else's. I'm sure there are other ways of recording this music, using the technology to force a sense of clarity onto the music's complex, tangled webs. But by not doing so, the recording feels truer to Reger's often convoluted intentions, for better or worse.

The packaging is very stylish, and there is a funky abstract design printed on the front of each of the discs. The liner-notes are informative, but it is clear that the three discs have previously been released individually, and that the notes have since been crudely conflated.

This is a highly commendable set, thanks mainly to the sheer quality of the cello playing. But while I welcome it on its own considerable merits, it is probably worth bearing in mind the competition. In recent years, the Sonatas have been recorded by Alban Gerhard and Markus Becker (Hyperion CDA67581/2) while the Suites have been tackled by Peter Wispelwey (Channel Classics CCS9596). Both have received glowing reviews, which given the usual prejudices in the English-speaking world towards the composer is no small achievement. This release will, I suspect, undercut both of those in terms of price, so that may count in its favour. What a luxury though for Reger fans to be offered a choice of such fine performers for this hitherto scandalously neglected music!

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

Pat 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.