Max REGER (1873-1916)
Violin Sonata No.2 in D major Op.3 (1892) [25:38]
Violin Sonata No.3 in A major Op.41 (1899) [23:40]
Albumblatt in B flat major Op.87 No.1 (1905) [2:24]
Romance in E major Op.87 No.2 (1905) [12:27]
Ulf Wallin (violin)
Roland Pöntinen (piano)
rec. November 2008, Studio G, Deutschlandradio Kultur
CPO 777445-2 [64:36]
Ulf Wallin and Roland Pöntinen began their Reger violin project well over a decade ago for CPO (1 and 5) and the final instalment maintains the high standards already established. In fact Wallin has recently recorded the Violin Concerto, and he must be about the composer’s most devoted disciple amongst living fiddle players.
This disc presents the second and third sonatas. The Second was completed in 1892 and proves to be a very lyrical, tender and Brahmsian effusion.  The piano chording is especially Brahmsian, and those passages where the piano’s Late Romantic self-confidence meets the violin’s relative reticence prove the most ingenious and interesting; the space where weight and feathery reserve meet generating a fruitful tension. Of the inner two movements, there’s a touch of folklore in the B section of the Scherzo, and a charming and ingratiating slow movement - where dynamics are intelligently deployed by both musicians. The finale is confident, with an even more swaggering B section.
The Third Sonata followed seven years later. Reger himself told a critic that ‘it was a very difficult work to understand’. This clearly relates to the profusion of ideas and incidents coupled with an occasionally rather aggressive stance. Even though the opening movement is in fairly clear sonata form, it teems with ideas that seem to coil and twist around without proper thematic resolution. Such doubts are (temporarily, at least) swept aside by the droll, brilliant fugato in the Intermezzo and the warm, sometimes even passionate slow movement where Wallin’s deft portamenti pay dividends. The finale offers the most overt evidence of Brahms’s influence, whilst Reger revisits earlier thematic material in a structurally superior way.
The Op.87 pieces were written in 1905 and form a strong, indeed strange contrast. No.1 is a slight, small-scale Albumblatt whereas the Romanze is over twelve minutes in length and oddly constructed. It opens with a long piano introduction, sounding not unlike one of Brahms’s late Opp.118 or 119 piano pieces. When the violin enters the moody quotient increases, and a turbulent and romantically intense spirit predominates.
The performances, as noted, are in every way outstanding, as is the recording. Both men offer the genuine Regerian experience in this series, not least in this disc.
Jonathan Woolf 

Offers the genuine Regerian experience.