Reger: Sonata in B flat, Op. 107; Little Sonata in D minor, Op. 103b/1

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COMPOSERS: Reger
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Sonata in B flat, Op. 107; Little Sonata in D minor, Op. 103b/1
PERFORMER: Ulf Wallin (violin), Roland Pöntinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 725-2
These two limpid and lucid sonatas should provide their own eloquent advocacy on behalf of the much-maligned Reger. Both show his mastery of the Brahmsian tradition, as well as the transparency of texture he sought all his life. The mellow B flat major Sonata is the composer’s own adaptation of the last, and finest, of his three clarinet sonatas. An innocuous-sounding phrase introduced by the piano towards the end of the exposition in the opening movement reappears during the course of the rapturous slow movement, as well as in the coda of the finale. Meanwhile, the finale has worked its way round to the mood and theme of the slow movement, and the work ends in an atmosphere of profound calm. The cyclic structure is both highly original, and carried out with great naturalness.

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Reger’s own brand of wistful lyricism is well to the fore again in the ‘Little Sonata’ in D minor (so called because it is essentially a piece of house-music designed for players of modest ability), with its instantly attractive concluding variation movement. These persuasive performances by Ulf Wallin and Roland Pöntinen are very well recorded, and for those willing to give Reger a try, the disc is unhesitatingly recommended. Misha Donat