horizontal line

Begun in 1998 and concluded in 2014, this 16-CD traversal of Reger’s complete organ music arrives in time for the centenary of the composer’s death in 2016. It enters the catalogue as only the third complete survey on disc – Rosalinde Haas’s pacy, late-1990s 12-CD compendium on MDG and Roberto Marini’s on Fugatto the others – and as three new intégrale undertakings by Jean-Baptiste Dupont (Éditions Hortus), Gerhard Weinberger (CPO), and Bernhard Buttmann (Oehms Classics) begin to gather steam.

Honours are shared here between ten soloists – all with something to say about the music – on seven organs, all but one (the 1911 Skinner in Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel) located in Germany. The Skinner proves an apposite choice on the penultimate volume: contemporaneous with Reger, it’s a sublime example of a 20th-century romantic instrument and resourceful enough to bite at the bitonal impulses of the 52 Easy Chorale Preludes and Monologues.

Frustratingly, those works (and some others) are divided between multiple volumes – the Chorale Preludes stretch across seven discs – unavoidable, perhaps, on a project of this scale, but it does some- what inhibit concentrated listening. Even so, and in the absence of a single unifying voice, there are benefits aplenty here in the multi- ple authorship on offer, not least on the shared Chorale Preludes. Josef Still and Martin Welzel are the most prominent figures, each appearing on three volumes, both stamping idiomatic authority on the material, with Ludger Lohmann’s sole contribution admirable for its subtlety and clarity.

Reservations about the consistency of the music aside – Reger constantly torn between the contrapuntalism of Bach and the combustibility of Liszt – the flexible and responsive engineering adroitly accommodates the varied voices of both soloists and organs.

The set includes individual discs complete with original notes. At the price (around £35 for 16 discs on some websites), it’s a bargain and an essential primer for the coming commemorations.

MICHAEL QUINN Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Choir & Organ, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing