LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Suite in Olden Style; Serenade in G
PERFORMER: Bamberg SO/Horst Stein
CATALOGUE NO: 3-1566-2
The image of Reger apparent from his organ works, which tend to define most people’s experience of his music, can seem a little forbidding. His orchestral music offers a broader and frequently gentler picture of the composer. Nothing could be more disarming than his G major Serenade of 1906: elegant, witty, and scored with exquisite delicacy, it is, despite the substantial length of three out of its four movements, a near-constant delight. The Suite in Olden Style, while fascinating for its anticipation of neo-classicism, is rather less charming. The clear nods at Bach – the opening idea of the third Brandenburg Concerto permeates the first movement – and the evident learning displayed in the abundant counterpoint of its outer movements are admirable, but the textures often thicken alarmingly.
Horst Stein and the Bamberg Orchestra’s performances are affectionate and perceptive, even if they are not always able to circumvent the slightly relentless qualities of the outer movements of the Suite. But with little enough competition in the catalogue, this issue is certainly recommendable for those wanting to get to know the orchestral Reger. Jan Smaczny