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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: 2 minutes 8 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)

Drei Gesänge, Op 111b
composer
four-part unaccompanied upper voices; dedicated to the Hamburger Frauenquartett

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The three songs for unaccompanied four-part women’s choir that make up Op 111b employ a diverse range of styles within their modest proportions. The first song is set entirely homophonically; this almost medieval effect, reinforced by the curious dissonances that precede each cadence, is an appropriate response to the text, which Will Vesper (1892–1962) based on an anonymous twelfth-century Mittelhochdeutsch song. The second song, a setting of ‘Abendgang im Lenz’ by Hedwig Kiesekamp (1844–1919), writing under the pseudonym L Rafael, reverts to the chromatic harmony we more customarily associate with Reger. The final song, meanwhile, uses a text by Eduard Mörike (1804–1875) that had previously been set by Schumann and Wolf, among many others: part of its appeal to musicians must lie in its invocation of the soft sound of ‘a distant harp’—a sound effectively conjured up by Reger with a rare sustained consonant chord.

from notes by Michael Downes © 2010

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