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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67892
Recording details: February 2011
Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Stephan Reh
Release date: January 2012
Total duration: 17 minutes 41 seconds

'Full of craft and a lyricism often of inspired quality … Tanja Becker-Bender is more than equal to the demands of the solo part, and Lothar Zagrosek's masterly articulation of Reger's Klangstrom (stream of sound), in all its transparency and modulated colour and variety of incident is, if anything, an even more distinguished contribution' (Gramophone)

'Reger's Violin Concerto … is one of his most heart-warming works, allowing his intensely lyrical streak free rein. It's also superbly written for the soloist … aided by first-rate orchestral playing, Zagrosek finds transparency in Reger's original, bringing out a wealth of significant detail in its rich polyphonic tapestry. Chief honours, of course, go to Tanja Becker-Bender: she not only shows stamina, but also technical command, beauty of tone and clear sympathetic identification with the music' (BBC Music Magazine)

'[Violin Concerto] On its own terms it's remarkably beautiful, and Tanja Becker-Bender does wonderful things with it, shaping its lines with great lyrical force and a tremendous sense of drama. There's strong playing from the Konzerthausorchester Berlin under Lothar Zagrosek, too' (The Guardian)

'Reger's Violin Concerto is probably the longest by a major composer … but such is the beauty of its themes and the master of its developmental invention, to say nothing of the committed nature of Tanja Becker-Bender's playing that … I was unaware an hour had passed … this is a truly outstanding CD of very fine music, excellently performed and recorded' (International Record Review)

'[Violin Concerto] Often considered a 'monster'—Reger's own word—but its time may at last have come. And this lovely, romantic version by Tanja Becker-Bender should help it along' (Daily Mail)

'Max Reger (1873-1916) is a composer whose best music rewards the effort taken to absorb it—and so it proves with the Violin Concerto of 1907 … this huge work has a first movement into which more conventionally ‘romantic’ works by Mendelssohn and Bruch could comfortably fit. It therefore makes demands on the stamina of the violinist, not just technically but in taxing their ability to keep the melodic threads running. Tanja Becker-Bender responds to the challenge magnificently, as do Lothar Zagrosek and his Berlin orchestra. This is a warm hearted performance right from the start' (ClassicalSource.com)

Two Romances, Op 50
composer
1900; for violin and small orchestra; No 1 dedicated to Eugen Sptizweg, No 2 to Dr Berthold Rebnitzer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Though his style was shaped by the piano and the organ (and he was famed as one of the most sensitive pianists of his time), Reger nourished the universal ambition to write for the most varied forces, interpreters, and categories of listeners. This may be seen in the wide range of works for the violin which run through his entire compositional career. He pointedly began his catalogue of published works in 1891 with the Sonata for violin and piano in D minor Op 1, which was to be followed by eight more sonatas, ending with the Sonata in C minor Op 139 (1915). And whereas his Bach-inspired works for unaccompanied violin of 1899 to 1914 (the Sonatas Opp 42 and 91 and the sets of Preludes and Fugues Opp 117 and 131a) adopt an intimate, monological tone of voice, the Two Romances for violin and small orchestra, written in 1900, were conceived, so to speak, as visiting cards for a big-city public. By having recourse to a favourite genre of bourgeois audiences, thereby following in the footsteps of Beethoven (they even share their opus number with the second of the latter’s two Romances, Opp 40 and 50), Bruch and Dvorák, he hoped to conquer the concert halls of the German Empire’s prosperous large cities. Composed when he was still living in his home town of Weiden, the Romances may be seen to a certain extent as prototypes for the Violin Concerto, since he was already testing in them a fusion of contrapuntal texture and flowing melody which determines the physiognomy of long stretches of the later work. And there may possibly be a slice of autobiography hidden in the effusive, wistful tone of the Romances: Reger dedicated the first to his then publisher Eugen Spitzweg, who managed the Munich firm of Aibl with his brother Otto and did much to promote the composer’s work; the second is inscribed to the Weiden physician Dr Berthold Rebnitzer, who twice rid Reger of neck ulcers that had plagued him during his years in Wiesbaden.

from notes by Wolfgang Rathert © 2012
English: Charles Johnston

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