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In 2016, several recordings and concert performances of Max Reger’s music are marking the centenary of the composer’s death. This enterprising disc of Reger’s Three Motets, op.90, reveals his debt to Bach’s example, with chorale-like homo- phonic textures and fugal writing much to the fore. Reger’s ever-fluid chromaticism makes these a cappella compositions difficult to sing, but the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart are hugely experienced in this repertoire and, under conductor Frieder Bernius, make a compelling case for these motets to be better known. The singers display consistently beautiful tone and even blend (as he reveals in the liner notes, Bernius likes to mix up the voice types) throughout each motet. The CD also includes Reger’s most substantial take on the celebrated ‘Passion’ chorale: a Bach verse-cantata shape (with instrumental accompaniment) but refracted through a romantic harmonic language. If the cantata is a bit dull, that’s not the performers’ fault.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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