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Hyperion Records

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The Storm (1911) by August Macke (1887-1914)
Saarland Museum, Saarbrucken / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67762
Recording details: September 2009
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Andrew Mellor
Release date: November 2010
Total duration: 11 minutes 41 seconds

'This disc yields up … secrets too long hidden from the public consciousness. Hyperion deserves a large vote of thanks for bringing both to our attention … [Der Einsiedler] the shifting chromatic sands of this baritone solo, presented with delectable poise by Alexander Learmonth, and its intense accommpaniment, tackled with breathtaking sensitivity by pianist Christopher Glynn … the second secret here is the four-year-old choir, Consortium … their singing is sensitive and technically impressive. Andrew-John Smith draws from them an infinitely subtle dynamic range and some impeccably moulded phrasing which certainly serves Reger uncommonly well. One suspects this repertoire could have found no finer exponents to bring it to public attention' (Gramophone)

'Reger's choral music, like so much of his output, is too little known. So Consortium's new disc … is to be warmly welcomed … I found this disc most enjoyable … the recording is of Hyperion's customary excellence, with performances to match' (Choir & Organ)

'If there are still a few timid souls out there who fear Max Reger's music as dark forests of gnarled and knotty chromatic counterpoint, here's the CD to conquer their prejudices … these wistful, autumnal choral works caress the ear and the soul' (International Record Review)

'One of those recordings that immediately stops you in your tracks. The performances are fine indeed, but more than anything, it's the music itself that strikes you—it's both utterly unique and breathtakingly beautiful … [The Hermit] the voices slip and slide smoothly through unexpected keys, gently encouraged by a breakaway baritone soloist. It's luxurious, exotic, unusual and so very evocative … [Three Six-Part Songs] it's here that Reger's music starts to move from inherent yearning to palpable despair. To bring that off, you need a choir that isn't just technically accomplished but can also conjure intense drama, and Andrew-John Smith's group is perfectly suited to it. The voices blend well but are never overly polite; this is passionate rather than devotional, and you sense the fine gradations of the composer's emotional intensity … unmissable' (Classic FM Magazine)

'A wonderful disc this, and a testament to yet another undervalued dimension of the artistry of Max Reger. Very few of the common complaints about Reger's music apply here: the music is consistently inspired, often light, elegant and wholly free from the stodginess that blights so many of his organ works' (MusicWeb International)

Der Einsiedler, Op 144a
First line:
Komm, Trost der Welt, du stille Nacht!
composer
1915; first performed in July 1916; for baritone, five-part chorus & orchestra; piano-accompanied version made by Reger; dedicated to the Bach Verein Heidelberg & Dr Philipp Wolfrum; published as No 1 of Zwei Gesänge für gemischten Chor mit Orchester
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Der Einsiedler, composed in 1915, sets a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff (1788–1857), whose lyrical evocations of troubled souls and nature’s beauties appealed to many of Reger’s contemporaries; Strauss’s setting of the world-weary Im Abendrot as what eventually became the last of the Four Last Songs cemented the association between Eichendorff and the late-Romantic world-view. Der Einsiedler alone had already been set by Schumann, Mendelssohn, Bruch and Wolf; one of Reger’s most celebrated pupils, Othmar Schoeck, would later add his own interpretation to the canon. The poem’s theme—the ‘comfort’ offered to the world by the ‘quiet night’—has obvious links with Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, whose protagonists likewise yearn for ‘night’; intentionally or not, Reger highlights this link with some Tristan-inflected harmony, though this is less evident in the mostly homophonic choral parts than in the orchestral accompaniment (here played in Reger’s idiomatic piano transcription), and in particular in the descending chromatic lines given to the baritone soloist, who enters for the second stanza and whose voice mingles with the chorus in the third. The words ‘O Trost der Welt’, sung frequently by the chorus, are repeated by the soloist as the music finds eventual repose in the home key; the human voice seems metaphorically to convey the comfort offered by night, while the sometimes febrile, harmonically restless piano part represents the subjectivity of the eponymous hermit.

from notes by Michael Downes © 2010

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