I should admit right at the outset that I am not very familiar with the music of this composer. And that it precisely why I wanted to explore this DVD. I learned that:
This beautifully presented box-set consists of an in-depth documentary spanning three discs: a 210-minute film entitled Max Reger: The Last Giant, which covers the whole of Reger’s life and art. The story ranges from his extensive organ works and his use of complex counterpoint; his unconventional life and his problems with anxiety and alcohol; all the way to the triumphantly boundary-pushing works in which he expressed his own, singular relationship with the tensions between tonality and chromaticism that defined the period.
This unprecedented journey through the work of one of the early 20th century’s great artists also includes twelve hours of performances of Reger’s best music by an exceptional line-up of musicians. These specially filmed performances cover all or part of more than 50 of the composer’s 146 opus numbers. They have all been all specially commissioned and performed for the Maximum Reger project, and are available only with this box-set.
These recordings include performances by two German symphony orchestras, as well as some of Reger’s most significant instrumental and chamber works, plus a major survey of his substantial and varied organ music, recorded on five magnificent organs in Bremen, Chemnitz, Ludwigsburg, Ulm and Weiden.
Musical Highlights include:
• Awe-inspiring performances of Reger’s most colossal organ works.
• An acknowledgement that Reger’s greatest work was in the field of chamber music, with sensational performances of his quartet Op.54ii and sextet Op.118.
• The first ever recording of a new orchestration of Reger’s signature work, the Bach Variations, Op.81.
• An exploration of his vast treasure trove of works for violin, including performances by Sayaka Shoji of Op.87 and 117.
• A rendition of his orchestral song An Die Hoffnung, Op.124, a work as haunting and beautiful as anything by Mahler or Strauss.
• Exquisite performances of unknown masterpieces for piano, violin, viola and cello, plus the very best of his lieder.