Reger's rather dull reputation precedes and undermines him! All organ works
(I am in general allergic to the instrument) and fugues? Academic and lifeless?
Well there certainly seem to be acres of organ works (enough to fill ten
or more volumes in MD&G's series - someone else care to tackle that
assignment) but the rest of his very extensive heritage is worth assessment
and on the evidence of my ears there are some uniquely valuable and enjoyable
works amongst the orchestral (and I suspect chamber as well) works. I say
this on the evidence of the often cheery orchestral variations and the
The piano concerto is not new to disc. I first heard it in the 1970s on a
CBS LP where the soloist was Peter Serkin and Ormandy may well have been
the conductor. My memories of it were very hazy. At that time I was first
exploring classical music and tended to move rapidly away from anything that
did not have something to capture the imagination. Now I was returning to
the work after a gap of about 25 years.
The concerto rises from a drabbly misty bed provided by strings. There are
no instantly commanding heroics. Instead we are treated to hyper-romantic
doom and gloom à la Manfred. However the atmosphere is pregnant
with potential. That potential is exploited as the piano enters in tumult
with bravura stormy playing which hardly relents at all throughout the movement.
In fact so dominant is the strenuous atmosphere of dashing conflict and heroism
that even the second movement (largo con gran espressione) opens in
piano-driven turmoil. This does evaporate and after the storm the sound raindrops
falling from the forest ceiling after the thunderstorm provides a pellucid
accompaniment (track 2 10.54) to the general air of dreaminess. The finale
(allegretto con spirito) IS spirited and there is a touch of Elgarian
passion at start of the movement (viz 1:50) and some delightful work for
Not perhaps my most favourite piano concerto but certainly a fine sturdy
work of concentrated late romanticism. This is clearly a concerto that will
yield rewards with repeated listenings even though first impressions suggest
a concerto with little in the way of easy glamour.
Trilingual (German/English/French) notes by Ekkehart Kroher are long on detail;
short on hot air.
The performance seems adept and committed both as to soloist and orchestra.
The technical dimension is well handled sounding like a very decent FM signal:
natural and strong without being spotlit. Short playing time mitigated by