Reger: Cello Sonatas Nos 1-4Solo cello suites Nos 1-3

LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Cello Sonatas Nos 1-4Solo cello suites Nos 1-3
PERFORMER: Allan Gerhardt (cello)Markus Becker (piano)
All to frequently Max Reger’s penchant for weaving extremely chromatic melodic lines into very complex contrapuntal textures has made his music seem unfathomable and indigestible. Yet when performers of real calibre take the trouble to try and clear a path through the musical fog, the results can be exceptionally rewarding. Certainly it would be difficult to find more persuasive advocates than cellist Alban Gerhardt and pianist Markus Becker, both of whom are steeped inside the idiom and know exactly how to present the music with cogency and a sure sense of direction. The Four cello Sonatas provide a fascinating overview of Reger’s musical development, moving from the Brahmsian warmth of the First to the highly expressionist and unsettling Fourth. With the aid of excellent sound, Gerhardt and Becker map out this musical journey with wonderful sensitivity. Employing a wide variety of expression and characterisation, both artists bring suitable fervour to the first movements of the first and second, relish the biting humour of the Scherzos in the Second and Third, and delight in the more light-hearted finales of the Second and Fourth. hyperion’s decision to add this already challenging programme the Three Unaccompanied Suites of 1914 is fully vindicated by an outstanding performance which once again demonsrates Gerhardt’s formidable control of musical line and breathtaking virtuosity. Whereas some other artists tend to make works sound like a pale imitation of Bach, Gerhardt invests the music with fantasy and imagination, nowhere more eloquently than in Largo Präludium of the Second Suite.