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Introduction and allegro on a bass by Max Reger


Even if Reger was not one of the deepest formative influences on Robert Simpson’s music, he was a composer who continually fascinated Simpson thoughout his creative life. The bass referred to in the title occurs towards the end (bar 103) of the fugue of Reger’s great organ Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, Op 135b, completed in 1916, the year of its composer’s death.

Simpson has altered Reger’s 12/8 metre to a 3/4 pulse, and treated the original (which first appeared in a vast ritenuto) as an allegro. Like Brahms in the great passacaglia from his Symphony No 4, Simpson has changed one note only, so as to make the bass combinable with a series of rising fourths, a feature strikingly evident in his Symphony No 9, the work that immediately preceded this Introduction and Allegro.

The extended slow introduction, Adagio — Pesante, is mysterious, awesome, based on fragments from Reger’s bass which emerge in many different forms and different melodic shapes throughout. After a big climax is reached, a stabbing repeated-note figure provides a link into the main Allegro vivace where the Reger bass is presented complete for the first time. Other themes are also introduced which show the rising fourth as a prominent interval. The final section is a thrilling crescendo of almost Brucknerian intensity, which uses Reger’s own treatment of his bass at its peak, providing a thunderous culmination to one of the most impressive and challenging works in the entire brass band repertoire.

from notes by Matthew Taylor © 1991


Simpson: Music for Brass
CDA66449Archive Service


Movement 1: Adagio – Pesante
Movement 2: Allegro vivace

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