Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Reviews from other months
MAX REGER (1873-1916) Comedy Overture (1911) [8.14] Symphonic Rhapsody for violin and orchestra (1916) [23.08] Suite for violin and orchestra [24.39] Scherzino for horn and orchestra [2.40].   Walter Forchert (violin) Marie Luise Neunecker (horn) Bamberg SO/Horst Stein recorded 1993 and 1995, Bamberg KOCH SCHWANN 3-1498-2 H1 [59.32]



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 prove.

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.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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