Hyperion Records

Cello Suite No 2 in D minor, Op 131c No 2
Autumn 1914; Meiningen; published in June 1915; dedicated to Hugo Becker

'Reger: Cello Sonatas' (CDA67581/2)
Reger: Cello Sonatas
Movement 1: Präludium: Largo
Movement 2: Gavotte: Allegretto
Movement 3: Largo
Movement 4: Gigue: Vivace

Cello Suite No 2 in D minor, Op 131c No 2
Suite No 2 in D minor (dedicated, like the Cello Sonata No 2, to Hugo Becker) begins with one of Reger’s finest cello inspirations, a Präludium of impassioned sorrow whose Bachian models are transcended in a remarkable display of empathy with the inmost soul of the instrument. Elegiac meditation is the tone throughout, even in the somewhat more virtuosic central section. Reger’s command of a beautiful and flexible ‘speaking’ single line is nowhere better demonstrated. After its eloquent final climax the music subsides swiftly and sadly to a hushed ppp ending. In strong contrast, the succeeding movement is a cheerful Gavotte in F major, very formal in its layout and proportions. The central section makes both witty and poetic use of the alternation of arco and pizzicato playing.

The Largo third movement is a deeply expressive and rather melancholic soliloquy in B flat major, its chaste single line progressively reinforced by plangent double-stopping and more rapid scalic passages. Beginning fairly high in the instrument’s register, it falls into a brown study in the lowest part of its compass in the middle of the movement, and it is in those regions, after a return to the opening theme, that it dies away. Like Bach’s cello suites this one ends with a Gigue, a robust and bracing movement full of strong rhythm and yet imbued with the melancholy qualities of the D minor tonality that were more thoroughly explored in the Präludium. This does not sound like a communal dance, but like one danced alone, with no one to share the pleasure, to keep one’s spirits up.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008

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