The Fantasia and Fugue on BACH, Op 46 is one of Reger’s most assured and successful inspirations, and has achieved well-deserved popularity despite its significant technical demands. In using the letters of Bach’s name for his musical material (in German musical nomenclature they become B flat, A, C and B natural), Reger was following in an august tradition dating back to Bach himself, and including works such as Schumann’s 6 Fugues on BACH and Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on BACH In the Fantasia, as in Op 29, Reger structures the piece as an alternation between rhetorical chordal flourishes and more regular contrapuntal writing, usually beginning mezzo-forte before a crescendo; however, he manages to integrate the whole with impressive success. The Fugue follows a pattern common to a number of Reger’s fugues, but also to a standard late nineteenth-century way of playing Bach fugues: namely, a slow and quiet beginning followed by a gradual crescendo and accelerando. Here that dynamic is overlaid onto the structure of a double fugue; the energetic second theme, comprising an arch of running quavers, combines in due course with the main theme, before a heroic conclusion that revisits the opening chords of the piece.
from notes by David Goode © 2016