Reger: Violin Sonata in C minor, Op. 139; Suite in the Old Style in F

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COMPOSERS: Reger
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Violin Sonata in C minor, Op. 139; Suite in the Old Style in F
PERFORMER: Ulf Wallin (violin), Roland Pöntinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 643-2
The second volume in CPO’s complete survey of the Reger violin and piano music is cleverly designed to provide the maximum degree of contrast in style and outlook. To address the frequently reiterated charge of long-windedness, there are the three delightful miniatures which include a haunting Cradle Song that is sufficiently memorable to warrant further exposure as an encore piece. Then there’s one of Reger’s extended homages to the Baroque era. Admittedly the Prelude from the Suite in the Old Style overstays its welcome, getting easily bogged down in a rhythmic pattern that derives all too obviously from the first movement of Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto. But the ensuing Largo is deeply felt, and the final Fugue, with its elaborate contrapuntal activity, builds up a good head of steam.

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Undoubtedly the most compelling music is contained within the Ninth Violin Sonata completed one year before his death. This is a work on the grandest scale, culminating in a set of variations as masterful as any Reger composed for orchestra. Ulf Wallin and Roland Pöntinen are careful not to overplay the rhetorical aspects of the turbulent opening movement, and as in their previous disc, know exactly when to move the argument forward, or provide the necessary moments of reflection and repose. With this sureness of approach reflected throughout the programme, the disc deserves an enthusiastic recommendation. Erik Levi