Koch's Reger series gives every sign of marching towards admirable completeness.
No other company have explored so thoroughly the Reger orchestral legacy.
That they have chosen to do this gradually and in cooperation with Bayerischer
Rundfunk, München is to their credit. This has, at the very least, made
use of valuable radio broadcast recordings. That, however, would not be a
virtue unless the performances were better than serviceable; and so they
As for the music, I had for years fought shy of exploring Reger because of
his, for me, loathed organ music reputation. Schwann's clear aspirations
towards creating a Reger Orchestral Edition persuaded me to try the music
rather than lean back on my prejudices.
As it turned out some of my prejudices have been borne out but there were
quite a few agreeable surprises along the way as well.
The Comedy Overture a jolly essay but jollity wearing cast-iron clogs and
infused with a ponderous Brahmsian character. Not the eager little overture
I might have hoped for.
Reger dies during Germany's great imperialist war leaving the Symphonic Rhapsody
to be completed by Florizel Reuter. The resulting work is sweetly Brahmsian
(cf the middle movement of the violin concerto). For all those who hunger
for music in legato-song style of Brahms and Bruch look no further. There
is variety as well. At 7.34 the hearty jollity of the Siegfried Wagner Violin
Concerto impinges on the scene. The work falls into four segments: largo
- fast - slow - fast.
The scholarly notes are engagingly date-specific and indicate 1908 as the
origin of the six movement suite which was initially for violin and piano.,
Most of the movements were orchestrated by Adabert Baranski. Only the Aria
was orchestrated by Reger. The Prelude is a grave and dignified dance; perhaps
a touch stilted. Then follows the Gavotte. The sleepy and slightly sticky
Brahmsian Aria opens pianissimo and continues dreamily and heavy on the eyelids.
The Burleske is a wonderfully lively dancing and pulsing with an electrifying
beauty. It is over far too quickly. The Menuett is steady and the final Gigue
just a bit repetitive.
The Scherzino has been recorded previously on BASF LP by Hans Baumann. Neunecker
(whose Smyth and Koechlin recital also on Koch is well worth getting) polishes
it off nicely. This is a sparky pocket-handkerchief of a concertino - jolly,
songful and jogging. It has a parallel in Gilbert Vinter's Hunter's Moon.