Reger: Violin Concerto in A, Op. 101; Two Romances, Op. 50

LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Concerto in A, Op. 101; Two Romances, Op. 50
PERFORMER: Tanja Becker-Bender (violin); Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra/Lothar Zagrosek


Reger’s Violin Concerto has suffered from two drawbacks in the century since it was written: its great length (nearly an hour) and the comparative complexity of its orchestration. Yet it’s one of his most heart-warming works, allowing his intensely lyrical streak free rein. It’s also superbly written for the soloist and rounded off by a delightfully ebullient finale filled with catchy tunes. Recorded versions have been slow to appear but more frequent in recent years. Kolja Lessing and the Göttingen Symphony Orchestra recently released a fascinating performance on Telos Music, with the work in the wholly revised orchestration by Adolf Busch who championed the work.

Lothar Zagrosek has no need for Busch’s aid in this excellent new recording. Aided by first‑rate orchestral playing, he finds transparency in Reger’s original, bringing out a wealth of significant detail in its rich polyphonic tapestry. Chief honours, of course, go to Tanja Becker-Bender: she not only shows stamina (the violin is seldom silent), but also technical command, beauty of tone and clear sympathetic identification with the music. The earlier Op. 50 Romances – trial runs, perhaps, for the Concerto’s rapt slow movement – receive equally sumptuous and sympathetic treatment.


Calum MacDonald