Magazine article Gramophone

Reger: Piano Concerto, Op 114

Magazine article Gramophone

Reger: Piano Concerto, Op 114

Article excerpt


Piano Concerto, Op 114 (a). Episoden, Op 115

Nos 1-5. Lose Blatter, Op 13--No 2, Choral

Markus Becker pf

(a) NDR Radiophilharmonie / Joshua Weilerstein

AVI-Music (F) AVI8553933 (58' * DDD)

Markus Becker's love affair with Reger's piano oeuvre first manifested itself on CD with the complete solo piano music, initially issued by Koch in a handsome wooden box (long prized by the present writer) and now available at budget price from Brilliant Classics. Becker has the requisite touch to bring this endlessly fascinating music to life, gnomically exemplified in the current context by the solo pieces Opp 13 and 115, where he implies parallels between Reger and Brahms. It's beautiful playing, every gesture sounding entirely natural. The Brahmsian axis is even more obvious at 4'16" into the Concerto's first movement, by which time Reger has modulated his way into the second idea, bringing with him unmistakable allusions to Brahms's B flat Concerto.

The work opens to a crescendoing timpani roll and a darkly clouded initial tutti before the soloist announces himself with a virtuoso flourish. Here Becker faces formidable competition from Marc-Andre Hamelin (under Ilan Volkov), whose superb 2010 rendition places the concerto securely among the genre's Romantic masterpieces. Trawling through available digital versions, Hamelin is the biggest player, while Gerhard Oppitz (under Horst Stein in a 'Max Reger Orchestral Edition' 12-disc set) offers marginally more breadth--his slow movement is glorious--and Becker projects the most obvious sense of play, especially in the finale, where his teasing rubato is quite unlike anyone else's. …

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