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Max REGER (1873-1916)
Organ Works - Volume 5
Gerhard Weinberger (organ)
rec. 2016/17, Michaeliskirche, Leipzig; St. Nicolai, Lüneburg
SACD/CD Hybrid stereo/multichannel 5.0; reviewed in CD stereo
CPO 7778402 [2 SACDs: 123:11]

For those, like myself, who've been enjoying Gerhard Weinberger's ongoing cycle of Reger's organ works, they'll be pleased to know that CPO have just released Volume 5. In keeping with the previous issues (I’ve already reviewed Volume 4), Weinberger performs on two different instruments that the composer would have been familiar with. CD 1 features the Wilhelm Sauer-Orgel in der Michaeliskirche, Leipzig, and CD 2 the Furtwängler & Hammer-Orgel in St. Nicolai, Lüneburg.

We open impressively with the virtuosic Toccata and Fugue in E minor, from the twelve pieces entitled Monologe, Op. 63. The Toccata calls for some impressive finger and foot work, whereas the Fugue takes a more reflective and reverential path. The Prelude and Fugue in F sharp minor is an arrangement of two pieces for solo piano from Aus Meinem Tagebuch, Op.82, composed in the summer of 1912. It's a rather sombre work, imbued with melancholy and sadness. I find it similar in vein to the G minor Prelude and Fugue which opens CD 2, but this latter work, eschewing any hint of pageantry, sounds more chromatically tortuous. Weinberger laces the Prelude with some beguiling gossamer hues, whilst the Fugue builds up to an impressive fortissimo climax. The Prelude and Fugue in F major is the third of four which make up the composer's Op. 85, penned in 1904. Once again the rhetoric is scaled down, and the Prelude, especially, feels very intimate. The Fugue, on the other hand, cumulatively builds up to a mighty summit, superbly achieved by Weinberger.

As a soothing antidote to Reger’s large organ scores, there are the 52 Easy Chorale Preludes, Op 67. Weinberger performs a selection. These settings of Protestant hymns pay tribute to Bach, who wrote the definitive versions, and many of the themes are well-known. They were composed between 1900 and 1902, and originally published in three volumes. The title 'easy' is misleading. No. 34 Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele  is rhythmically audacious, and requires a skilled operator. Likewise, the animated Lobe den Herren (no. 24) is no push over. My particular favorite is the sublime and noble Jesu, Meine Freude. I find the modest scale of these shorter scores most appealing.

Less weighty miniatures feature prominently in the set. Zwölf Stücke, Op. 65 are a group of twelve pieces dating from 1902, published as two books of six each. Weinberger gives us five. The most substantial are the Prelude and Fugue in D minor (Nos. 7 and 8). The soothing strains of the Consolation in E major (No. 4) contrast heavily with the sprightly and whimsical Scherzo in D minor (No. 10). From the same year come the Ten Pieces, Op. 69. Six of them are played here. They don’t quite grab me in the same way as the Op. 65 do. The Capriccio in D major (No. 5) seems the most interesting, with its swirling energy and effervescent thrust.

Weinberger, a splendid advocate for Reger's music, has chosen his instruments well and both, in combination with the venues' acoustics, confer the very best on these recordings. CPO's liner notes are all that one could hope for, with full organ specifications supplied. As with the previous volumes in the series, I find Weinberger's sensitivity to colour painting, in his attractive registration choices, compelling. The sound is demonstration class. For those daunted by the weight and complexity of Reger’s organ works, indeed any of his music for that matter, this 2 SACD set is certainly more approachable, and would be as good a place as any to start.

Stephen Greenbank
Easy Chorale Preludes, Op.67 [32:53]
no.7 Dir, dir, Jehova will ich singen
no.12 Gott des Himmels und der Erden
no.14 Chorale Prelude 'Herzlich tut mich verlangen'
no.19 Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod
no.20 Jesus, meine Zuversicht
no.21 Jesu, meine Freude
no.22 Komm, o komm
no.24 Lobe den Herren
no.26 Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht
no.27 Nun danket alle Gott
no.28 Nun freut euch
no.29 Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
no.32 O Lamm Gottes
no.33 O Welt, ich muss dich lassen
no. 34 Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
Monologues, Op.63 [12:18]
no.9 Toccata in E minor
no.10 Fugue in E minor
Pieces, Op.65 [25:59]
no.4 Consolation
no.7 Prelude in D minor
no.8 Fugue in D major
no.9 Canzona in E flat major
no.10 Scherzo in D minor
Pieces, Op.69 [26:07]
no.3 Basso ostinato
no.4 Moment musical
no.5 Capriccio
no.6 Toccata
no.7 Fuge
no.8 Romanze
Prelude and Fugue in F sharp minor [6:12]
Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor (1912) [9:57]
Preludes and Fugues, Op.85 [9:29]
no.3 in F major


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