Reger Violin Sonatas

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COMPOSERS: Max Reger
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Reger Violin Sonatas
WORKS: Violin Sonatas, Opp. 3 & 41; Albumblatt; Romanze
PERFORMER: Ulf Wallin (violin), Roland Pontinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 7774452

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This last volume of Ulf Wallin’s survey of Max Reger’s violin music eloquently reminds us that Reger had an instinctive feeling for the violin. Everything on this disc of violin-and-piano works is highly attractive, beautifully conceived for the duo medium. The lyrical early D major Sonata (1892) shows the young Reger’s roots in Brahms, whose own violin sonatas were written around the same time, and its rondo Finale has an unforgettable main tune.

The more individualised A major Sonata, from seven years later, is more taxing for players and listeners alike, but its large-scale first movement is an impressive essay in expanded sonata form, and the brief following Intermezzo a brilliant and catchy foil to it. The two Op. 87 pieces from 1905 are vividly contrasted, too – the delicious dry witted Albumblatt is a perfect miniature, while the Romanze is a large-scale utterance that shows Reger’s Romanticism in its purest form. Wallin expounds all this music with total sympathy and a fine sense of style; Pöntinen is an impeccable partner in his ability to make the often complex piano parts sound crystal clear and poetic. It makes an admirable introduction to Reger’s chamber music.

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Calum MacDonald