Brilliant Classics

Reger: Bach Variations, Op.81, Träume am Kamin

Reger: Bach Variations, Op.81, Träume am Kamin
Composer Max Reger
Artist Eden Walker piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number PCL10310
EAN code 5029365103107
Release June 2024

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About this release

A new recording of two major Reger cycles, by a fast-emerging British piano talent.

‘To fathom his all-powerful might, no human may accomplish’ – this is the text, from a duet in Bach’s Cantata BWV128, which Reger takes as the subject of his Bach Variations, and it may fairly be advanced that Reger accorded Bach a comparably divine status. At the age of just 31, Reger had by this stage assimilated not only Bachian counterpoint but its transformation through the ears and imaginations of Schumann and Brahms and others, and he proceeds to treat the theme with astonishing freedom, testing the technique of the performer while reaching for the limits of the theme’s musical possibilities over the course of 14 variations. The cycle concludes with a mighty fugue – or fugues, on separate subjects (of Reger’s own devising, eventually welded with the Bach theme). In his booklet essay, Eden Walker remarks that the final bars are ‘some of the most colossal and victorious of any in the entire piano repertoire.’

By contrast, as a salutary demonstration of Reger’s versatility, the Träume am Kamin present him at his most relaxed and intimate, and anyone who has found it hard to warm to Reger will surely find in this cycle a delightful entry-point to an often forbidding catalogue. ‘Dreams by the Fireside’ – Reger’s knotty chromatic harmony still underpins the progress of these Romantic sketches, but now disguised by a touch of the ‘lateness’ that comes over many artists towards the end of their lives or careers, whether or not they were aware of it. This cycle was Reger’s final piano cycle before his death in 1916, aged 41, and the mood of the cycle is perhaps also marked by a necessary escapism from the violent bloodshed around him.

Born in 1995, Eden Walker has become a specialist in the ultra-virtuoso end of Romantic piano writing at the hands of composers such as Alkan, Busoni and Godowsky (and Reger). Based in Hamburg, he now teaches at the Staatliche Jugendmusikschule, as well as furthering his own studies and giving concerts across Germany and the UK.

- This new recording presents two pianistic masterworks by Max Reger: the Bach Variations Op. 81 and the cycle Träume am Kamin.
- Max Reger (1873–1916), hailed as "the last giant in music" by composer Paul Hindemith, occupies a commanding position in the late Romantic and early 20th-century German musical landscape. Reger's musical legacy marks a distinct bridge between the 19th-century Romantic tradition and the burgeoning complexities of the 20th century.
- Reger's music is defined by dense textures, chromatic harmonies, and meticulous contrapuntal craftsmanship. His compositions, characterized by a demanding technical prowess, require performers and listeners to engage intellectually. Influenced by predecessors like Johann Sebastian Bach, and Johannes Brahms, Reger aimed to reconcile Romantic expression with the contrapuntal rigor of the Baroque era, while embracing modernist perspectives that pushed the boundaries of tonality.
- The Bach Variations Op. 81 offer everything that is characteristic of Reger’s advanced style – sophisticated harmonies, a dizzying abundance of notes, roaring climaxes, monumental architecture, and seamless polyphony.
- The Träume am Kamin is a cycle of modestly scaled, intimate character pieces, charming and melodious.
- Eden Walker, born in 1995, is a British pianist based in Hamburg, Germany. His focus on delving into the underrepresented virtuoso piano works of composers such as Reger, Busoni, Alkan, and Godowsky has earned him a reputation as a pianist adept at navigating the technical and intellectual intricacies of this challenging repertoire.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: I. Thema. Andante (quasi adagio)
  2. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: II. Variation I. L’istesso tempo
  3. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: III. Variation II. (sempre espressivo ed assai legato)
  4. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: IV. Variation III. Grave assai
  5. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: V. Variation IV. Vivace
  6. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: VI. Variation V. Vivace
  7. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: VII. Variation VI. Allegro moderato
  8. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: VIII. Variation VII. Adagio
  9. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: IX. Variation VIII. Vivace
  10. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: X. Variation IX. Grave e sempre molto espressivo
  11. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: XI. Variation X. Poco vivace
  12. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: XII. Variation XI. Allegro agitato
  13. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: XIII. Variation XII. Andante sostenuto
  14. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: XIV. Variation XIII. Vivace
  15. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: XV. Variation XIV. Con moto
  16. Max Reger: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, Op. 81: XVI. Fugue – Sostenuto –Più moto – Adagio
  17. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: I. Larghetto in B-Flat Major
  18. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: II. Con moto in E-Flat Major – Andante
  19. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: III. Molto adagio in A Major
  20. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: IV. Allegretto grazioso in E major – Andante – Tempo primo
  21. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: V. Agitato in B Minor
  22. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: VI. Poco vivace in A-Flat Major – Molto sostenuto – Tempo primo – Andante
  23. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: VII. Molto sostenuto in D Major
  24. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: VIII. Vivace (Etüde) in C Major
  25. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: IX. Larghetto in E-Flat Major
  26. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: X. Vivace (Humoreske) in D Minor – Meno mosso – Vivace – Un poco meno mosso – Adagio
  27. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: XI. Andantino in G Minor
  28. Max Reger: Träume am Kamin, Op. 143: XII. Larghetto in D Major (Studie)