At long last Max Reger’s complete organ works are available again in one box set. As a goody for all Reger fans the complete organ arrangements of works by Johann Sebastian Bach are also part of this edition.
Discs 1 - 12 present an overview of the complete organ works of Max Reger in manageable units. The numerous shorter chorale settings appear together with the longer works.
Discs 13 & 14 present the complete recordings of Max Reger’s organ arrangements from 1902-3 of fifteen piano works by Bach (toccatas, fantasias, and preludes and fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier) along with Reger’s Course for Trio Playing on the Organ (Inventions by J. S. Bach) of 1903. Reger’s course assigns the lower part inRead more Bach’s two-part inventions to the pedal and always adds a new middle part for the left hand to Bach’s overall compositional design.
It’s a safe bet that few musicians outside of the organ community have explored all of Max Reger’s prolific oeuvre for that instrument. Organist Rosalinde Haas, however, has lived with and performed this music for decades.
This music is definitely worth getting to know. The composer knew the organ inside and out, and he exploited that knowledge to the hilt. What is more, his output for the organ boasts more formal and emotional variety than you’d suspect.
Reger’s densely chromatic and restlessly contrapuntal idiom proudly trumpets itself in masterful large-scale pieces like the Fantasia and Fugue on B-A-C-H, Introduction, Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme in F-sharp Minor, the two sonatas, and the formidably compact Symphonic Fantasy and Fugue Op. 57. After an eight year hiatus from writing for the instrument, Reger’s well of inspiration bursts to overflowing proportions in the Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue Op. 127. By contrast, the numerous chorale preludes and cycles of short pieces reveal the composer’s overlooked affinity for small forms, mood pieces, and fugues that don’t stretch out to Cecil B. Demille-like proportions.
No matter how nasty Reger’s technical terrain gets, Haas overcomes the vertiginous runs, reams of double notes, and potential hand/feet entanglements without one iota of strain, hesitation, or tempo compromise. The Albiez-Organ, Frankfurt/Main-Niederrad is an ideal instrument for Reger’s dizzying registration shifts and full-throated sonic ideal.
This milestone in the ever-growing Reger discography deserves all the attention it can muster.