Reger complete organ muzak/MDG C

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 7

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 more than three decades. Some collectors might recall her superb Reger recital for Telefunken in the early 1970s (never reissued on CD, and long out of print). In the late 80s and early 90s Haas recorded the complete Reger organ music for MDG on twelve CDs. All twelve are gathered in this box set that sells at a reduced price, averaging out to a little less than four dollars per disc. Yes, it’s a bargain, but only diehard Reger acolytes or organ buffs would truly care about all this obscure music. Well, check your attitude at the door, folks, because 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. While the engineering does both interpreter and composer justice, one could imagine more vivid, impactive reproduction. Still, this milestone in the ever-growing Reger discography deserves all the attention it can muster.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This one, Selected pieces, Rogg (Bis)

MAX REGER - Complete Organ Works

  • Rosalinde Haas (organ)
  • MDG - 315 0846-2
  • CD

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