Classical Sunday: Reger’s Variations on Bach

Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Bach, Op.81

00:00 – Theme, Andante
01:58 – Variation 1: L’istesso tempo
03:43 – Variation 2: Sempre espressivo ed assai legato
05:13 – Variation 3: Grave assai
08:43 – Variation 4: Vivace
09:52 – Variation 5: Vivace
11:26 – Variation 6: Allegro moderato
13:00 – Variation 7: Adagio
15:00 – Variation 8: Vivace
16:13 – Variation 9: Grave e sempre molto espressivo
18:54 – Variation 10: Poco vivace
19:54 – Variation 11: Allegro agiato
20:58 – Variation 12: Andante sostenuto
23:18 – Variation 13: Vivace
24:07 – Variation 14: Con moto
25:52 – Fugue

Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger (19 March 1873 – 11 May 1916), commonly known as Max Reger, was a German composer, pianist, organist, conductor, and academic teacher.  He worked as a concert pianist, as a musical director at the Leipzig University Church, as a professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig, and as a music director at the court of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen.

Reger first composed mainly Lieder, chamber music, choral music and works for piano and organ.  He later turned to orchestral compositions, such as the popular Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart, and to works for choir and orchestra such as Gesang der Verklärten (1903), Der 100. Psalm (1909), Der Einsiedler and the Hebbel Requiem (both 1915).  (…)

Reger produced an enormous output in just over 25 years, nearly always in abstract forms.  Few of his compositions are well known in the 21st century.  Many of his works are fugues or in variation form.  (…)

Reger was particularly attracted to the fugal form and created music in almost every genre, save for opera and the symphony (he did, however, compose a Sinfonietta, his op. 90).  A similarly firm supporter of absolute music, he saw himself as being part of the tradition of Beethoven and Brahms.  His work often combined the classical structures of these composers with the extended harmonies of Liszt and Wagner, to which he added the complex counterpoint of Bach.  (…)

His works could be considered retrospective as they followed classical and baroque compositional techniques such as fugue and continuo.  The influence of the latter can be heard in his chamber works which are deeply reflective and unconventional.

(from Reger’s Wiki entry)


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