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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66996
Recording details: April 1998
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: January 1999
Total duration: 29 minutes 1 seconds

'Others have courageously fought the cause of this complex and neglected repertoire but few, if any, have brought to it such compelling fusion of temperament, intellect, and prodigious pianistic fluency' (Gramophone)

'This is a marvellous disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'I have never heard Reger played with greater imagination or persuasive eloquence. Hamelin seems to command an almost limitless range of keyboard colour. Those who have yet to be won over by Reger's keyboard music should start here' (Classic FM Magazine)

'I was enthralled' (Classic CD)

'An embarrassment of riches. This is absolutely first-rate playing. Quite simply this is a stunning recital' (The Scotsman)

'This is playing such as you seldom hear. First-rate Hyperion recording; boring superlatives, as usual, for this least boring of contemporary keyboard giants' (Hi-Fi News)

Variations and Fugue on a theme of Georg Philipp Telemann, Op 134

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
By the time Reger came to write his Variations and Fugue on a theme of Georg Philipp Telemann in 1914, he had mastered the orchestra and gained more experience in variation form, principally with his orchestral ‘Hiller’ and ‘Mozart’ Variations. In fact, it might be said with some justification that the ‘Telemann’ Variations stand in relation to the ‘Bach’ Variations in the same way that the orchestral ‘Hillers’ relate to the ‘Mozarts’—the latter being generally more playful than the former. They are also considerably less chromatic than the ‘Bach’ Variations—lighter, purer, more transparent. There are also many more individual variations and a whole host of repeats.

The theme itself is taken from a Suite for two oboes and strings that Telemann composed around 1733 as part of his Tafelmusik. (Listeners who fancy ‘checking out’ the original are directed to the Suite, or Ouverture, that opens the Tafelmusik’s ‘Production III’. The Menuet is its seventh and final movement. The Suite has been recorded by The King’s Consort on Helios CDH55278.) Reger’s first statement of the theme immediately suggests parallels with Brahms, whereas the first four variations provide straightforward embellishments in a similar vein, whether regal (No 1), swirling (No 2), slipping (No 3, with staccato triplets) or dancing (No 4). The gigue-like fifth variation leads to octave triplets in No 6, Chopinesque cascades in No 7 and octave leaps in No 9.

Variation 10 (Quasi adagio) marks a dramatic easing of pulse; No 11 picks up the tempo a little, and No 12 fires gunshot chords that scatter flurries of repeated notes. The thirteenth variation is elegant and lightly brushed; No 14 tucks sustained trills in among its already dense textures, and with No 17 we move to the shaded glades of B flat minor before madcap arpeggios (No 18) signal a return to the home key (in No 19) and a warming Poco vivace (No 21).

The next two variations mark a return to pianistic athletics, but with No 23 we reach a majestic, richly harmonized chorale-style melody and a desolate bridge to the closing Fugue—more playful than Reger’s ‘Bach’ Fugue, and rather less complex, save for the expected broadening around the peroration. Beethoven comes to mind here, especially in the central section, which slows perceptibly only to build again—a ploy that Beethoven used at the centre of his Hammerklavier Sonata’s fugal finale.

from notes by Robert Cowan © 1999

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