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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: 14 minutes 50 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)

Requiem, Op 144b
First line:
Seele, vergiss sie nicht
1915; for alto/baritone, choir & orchestra; piano-accompanied version made by Reger; dedicated To the memory of the German heroes fallen in the Great War; first performed in July 1916; published as No 2 of Zwei Gesänge für gemischten Chor mit Orchester
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Requiem sets a poem by the dramatist Friedrich Hebbel (1813–1863): the piece is sometimes known as the ‘Hebbel Requiem’ to distinguish it from the so-called ‘Latin Requiem’ that Reger began in 1914, though he got no further than an opening movement, Totenfeier, and a fragment of the Dies irae. Little of the consolatory quality of the Christian Requiem Mass finds its way into the Hebbel setting, which is dedicated ‘to the memory of the German heroes fallen in the Great War’: from the tolling pedal Ds that dominate the introduction and persistently recur thereafter, through the hollow chords to which Reger sets the words ‘See, they [the dead] hover around you’, to the anguished, expressionistic evocation of the ‘shuddering’, ‘forsaken’, ‘cold’ souls, the piece seems determined to expose death in all its grim horror. This emphasis is all the more poignant given that Requiem, alongside its companion piece Der Einsiedler, was not premiered until July 1916, two months after Reger’s own death. In the work’s final moments, however, the tonality shifts hesitantly from minor to major: though the sentiments expressed by the text remain identical to those of the start (‘Soul, forget not the dead’), the uneasy calm that Reger conveys at the end of this unorthodox work suggests that some measure of religious faith—whether Catholic or Protestant—remained intact as his life approached its partly self-inflicted end.

from notes by Michael Downes © 2010

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