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Max Reger: Violin Sonatas n° 3 in A major, opus 41, & n° 2 in D major, opus 3 – Albumblatt in B-Flat major, opus 87 n° 1 – Romanze in E minor, opus 87 n° 2
Ulf Wallin (Violin), Roland Pöntinen (Piano)
Recording: Deutschlandradio (Studio G), Berlin (November 4-7, 2008) – 64’36
cpo # 777 445-2 – Booklet in German and English

Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart. Drawn to the Baroque style with an affinity for Bach, he was also influenced by Wagner, Brahms and Beethoven, yet Max Reger digressed into a modernistic mold which is grounded with classical standards.

The CD turns our attention to a little corner of Reger’s imagination by including two of his sonatas and two selected works taken from his “Albumblatt” and “Romanze” series. Ulf Wallin and Roland Pöntinen, chamber music partners for a great many years, have a keen chemistry that allows this portioned oeuvre to be delineated with great force and intensity.

Each of the two Sonatas contains four movement construction, but the two opening “Allegro” expositions are quite distinct: the Sonata noº 3 pulsates with weighty emotion while the Sonata noº 2 has a more tender and softened approach. The “Intermezzo” found in the Sonata noº 3 has a bit of impish delight, but the predominate degree of somberness is still retained. This is followed by a lugubrious “Largo.” The “Adagio” from the Sonata noº 2 has underlying elements of Rachmaninoff, and in the “Finale” we find pizzicati and cycling measures running between Wallin’s violin and Pöntinen’s piano. This is a wonderful, melodious piece which resolves with a burst of hopeful expression by ending in the major chord.

Albumblatt is a pity little dither beginning and ending with the same slow legato melody that is interjected with gavotte-like glances that adds a bit of flutter. The concluding Romanze has a beautiful piano introduction that continues with Pöntinen’s skeleton chording which anchors the violin’s upper melodic lines. It is permeated with dreamy flavoring, ebbing and flowing with melancholic might.

The music of Max Reger is another treasure which is gradually being rediscovered. For those interested in broadening their knowledge of early 20th century composers with a bit of an edge and a piano/violin combination will find this cpo recording rewarding.

Christie Grimstad




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