Reger: Sonatas for Solo Violin

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COMPOSERS: Reger
LABELS: Dorian
WORKS: Sonatas for Solo Violin
PERFORMER: Ulrike-Anima Mathé (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: DOR-90175 DDD
A recording of three unaccompanied sonatas for violin by the German composer Max Reger (1873-1916) might be expected only to confirm his not altogether undeserved reputation as a writer of rather dry, academic works. Not so: this disc is an unexpected pleasure, both for the music itself and for the superb playing of the young German violinist Ulrike-Anima Mathé, who reveals herself as very much an artist to be watched.

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The sonatas are from Reger’s Op. 91 set of seven – he deliberately wrote one more than the six solo sonatas and partitas of JS Bach to avoid inviting too direct a comparison. Inevitably the earlier masterworks are recalled – the final sonata (included here) culminates in a magnificent 13-minute chaconne in the style of Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor – but Reger is as much concerned with melody and harmony as with counterpoint, and much of the music is expressively lyrical.

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Mathé meets the considerable technical demands with assurance and is fully sensitive to the emotional subtlety of this unusual but rewarding repertory. Dorian’s recording is exemplary. David Michaels