Max von Reger (1873-1936) wrote some interesting music but has never been thought of as one of the great composers, so how does he fare in some of the 300 or so songs he wrote, in the hands of a young British lyric soprano and one of the world’s finest accompanists?
With Reger you don’t expect anything revolutionary, so the Second Viennese School largely passed him by, like Wolf he favoured short epigrammatic settings, which means that some of the songs last barely a minute, the two longest, Mein Traum and Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, bookend the recital at four and five minutes each and he was fond of juxtaposing flowing instrumental lines with more angular vocal ones, but in terms of quality Schubert he most definitely was not.
Meine Traum opens with a sustained legato line and ends very softly, in the third and fifth songs Bevan is sometimes a fraction under the note—a problem that recurs on a fairly regular basis—doesn’t sound comfortable negotiating the undulating melodic lines, there is some pinched tone in the more extrovert Zwischen zwei Nächten and the upper register in Träume, träume is strained at the end. She sounds more at ease in Sehnsucht where the vocal line is more Straussian, does have a reasonable range of tone colours at her disposal, is often able to inject genuine feeling into a song and of course Martineau’s playing is beautifully modulated.
Sonically you have typical Hyperion 24/96 sound, where the overall balance is nicely middle-distance, all of the registers are equally balanced, the performers have presence and there is a clear sense of space around them. The balance between singer and piano is also very good …
Finally a word of thanks to Hyperion for providing easily the best download facility in the world; having had to wait 4 months for Sony to even make it available, their Horowitz Unreleased 24bit, 18GB box took over 4 hours to download and one could not help but think it would have taken a fraction of the time with Hyperion.