Reger’s op. 59 Second Volume

Hallo, dear Reger enthousiasts,

hallo, dear organ enthousiasts,


some friends said to me, why you don’t present any videos showing your organ playing? Indeed, in this homepage you only find information by words and reproduction of my interpretations to hear. Mouvies, videos, pictures, designs you easy find it in internet. Narrative manner is my passion, to tell some reflexions, experiences, knowledge accumulated in many years. And, certainly much more efficient, music played by myself hoping you like it. I don’t like videos with artists in music (there are few exceptions). Very often I feel sorry for musicians in motion-picture, camera near. And the special seat of the organist with his pedal playing and all these technical features around him: which advance one can expect for the listeners concentration in music?

Let’s return to music itself, to Reger and his op. 59.


The second volume of these 12 pieces surprises in evoking religious music. Four pieces reflect roman-catholic tradition in organ music: Kyrie, Gloria, Benedictus, Te Deum. In Gloria (No. 8) and Te Deum (No. 12) Reger uses well-known liturgical melodies. In catholic mass the priest intonate „Gloria in excelsis deo“. You hear this melody first in soprano in homophonic style. In the following parts it appears in multiple constellations.


‘Benedictus’ follows, the absolute contrast to ‘Gloria’. Extremely lyrical, I feel lovely, smooth, indeed a moment of highest imagination of Reger and… the dearling of listeners since the appearence in 1901.

What a melodic passion! But a sort of „unendliche Melodie“ (infinite melody). All caracteristics of romantic melody is abandoned: no periodic structure, motives, phrases, cadences are placed without any symmetry like a prose speech. All this a very innovation. On the other side the significant reflex of tradition: ‘Benedictus’ in catholic masses ever is a lyrical piece (Haydn, Mozart, Dvorak etc.). The text „Benedictus in nomine domini“ is followed by „Hosanna in excelsis“ in Allegro movement. And indeed, after the first lyrical part Reger continues with an Allegro-fugue and one can sing the theme with the words „Hosanna in excelsis“! N.B. the text is not indicated in the score.

That’s Reger: revolution and tradition forming a new kind of music.


It’s evident. One can say, Reger’s op. 59 is a collection of character-pieces („Charakterstücke“), a sort of compositions frequently used in 19th. century (Mendelssohn, Schumann, Grieg), especially in Piano-literature. In the same time one can say, Reger’s op. 59 is a sort of „livre d’orgue“, collections composed by Grigny, Couperin, Clérambault etc. (17th and 18th century). The same genre is Frescobaldi’s ‘Fiori musicali’. You see, Reger is orientated in the precious heritage in order to transform it in modern music of 1901.


For further exemple now ‘Kyrie’ (No. 7). The first section is dominated by a theme in reminiscence of the famous Luther Choral „Aus tiefer Not“. The meaning of the text is the same as ‘kyrie’ in Greek. Reger presents a large development formed by a continuous crescendo followed by a continuous diminuendo. This realised by using as medium the melodic (arising/falling), rhythmic (slow to fast to slow) and dynamic (piano-forte-piano) aspect. It follows an intermedium section with a contrasting theme.


But instead to repeat the first section in tradition of 19th century Reger begins a disputation of the two themes, which remains until the end without returning to the earlier sections. A very extraordinary modern conception proving Regers outstanding qualities as composer. I let you hear the end with the disputation of the two themes during a continuous diminuendo. In the last bars I use the Prinzipal 32′. Molto grandioso!


‘Te Deum’, the great Finale, sets the famous gregorian song (hymn of Ambrosius) in unisono with the fff organ, before the theme appears in the pedals, a real good task for the Posaune, the big read stop for bass function in the great organ sound. The expressive tension growes, the movement becomes quicker, the theme in soprano is followed by cords in fff , which give high emphasis, very adapted to the liturgical tradition.



This group of four pieces in the second volume of op.59 with it’s correspondence to catholic organ music tradition is opposed by two caracter pieces, placed between ‘Benedictus’ and ‘Te Deum’. That’s ‘Capriccio’ and the well-known ‘Melodia’. The title Melodia is very justified, because one hear a free invented, calm flowing melodie in phrases with very wide dimensions. Regers melodic conception is obviously unusual and extremely modern in the beginning of 20th century. And this melodic pearl requires the best colour in sound, here in Koblenz St. Josef it is the moment for the wounderfull Flaut major 8′ in the Great.


For each organist it’s rather delicate to play this composition. The reason is Max Regers own recording of it, the famous Welte roll. The question:  what’s to do: to try an imitation of Regers interpretation? To try an interpretation in emotional distance? I think: neither nor! I play my own interpretation, and I know, many details differ from the composers version. But we shall not leave this marvellous piece without hearing the fine end with his clear sounds of the vox coelestis:


At the end of our ‘tour d’horizon’ through Max Regers ‘Zwölf Stücke für die Orgel’ op. 59 a conclusing return to the religious pieces with the fugue in five voices about ‘Te Deum laudamus’ , the apotheose in this collection, realised by the splendid full sound of the Seifert organ in Koblenz St. Josef.


Many greatings!


Andreas Arand



The op. 59 “Zwölf Stücke für die Orgel” composed by Max Reger

In one of the last news I presented extracts of my Reger recordings. Now I add recordings realized during last year 2016 (commemoration of the100th death of Max Reger). Since a long time I projected the integral interpretation of op. 59 „Zwölf Stücke für die Orgel“ (12 Organ pieces). It’s very crazy: these 12 organ pieces are the most famous and the most played among all of Regers organ works, but I myself never performed them completly in a recital! Indeed: interpretation of the large Reger pieces (opp. 46, 52, 57, 73 etc.) brings more prestige for the organists, the small pieces are estimated as less good composed and easy to play. But that’s not the truth. Claim and difficulties here are the same, only the size is a little modest.


You must hear the fine and extremly various character of these pearles in organ music.


Let’s begin with Pastorale (N0 2). High taste and raffinement. The reminiscence of old tradition of italian pastoral music: siciliano rhythm, third and sixth parallels, homophony, simple cords. But combined with real Reger style: extrem chromatism and – n.b! – polyphonic independance of the 3 voices, a total contrast to the old pastorale style! Effect: stupendous (my opinion).

Intermezzo (No. 3) : light, quick, full of fantasy (part 1). Subito another world: smooth, mysterious, long harmonies, the rhythmic drive suspended, static against moved (part 2). The last word however speaks the first character (part 3). Here the extract starting at the end of part1:

The most famous and most popular composition in op. 59, Heft 1 (volume 1) that’s Toccata (No. 5). A hightlight of inspiration, a moment of exaltation in organ music. Success guaranted! Isn’t it so? Here the beginning:

I intended to present this op. 59 here in a form of little excerpt. Those listeners without experience in Regers music so is given a sort of quintessence of this outstanding music.


A word about the organ used here. In earlier news I explained the very important condition in interpretation concerning an instrument in stylistic manner of the contemporary organ in Reger time. That doesn’t means, that’s impossible to play Regers works with modern instruments. On the contrary! It’s better to play Reger as to avoid it. But, it’s evident, listeners can understand the musical language of Reger much better with the fundus of stops and technical features corresponding with the intention of the composer. And you must know: in contrast with Franz Liszt, Arnold Schoenberg or Paul Hindemith Reger indeed was very familar with all aspects of organ playing.

I realized my recording of op. 59 with a very outstanding instrument in the famous city of Koblenz, town situated near the well-known castles alongside the Rhine river. Most people much more know the monumental ‘man on the horse’ (our old emperor Wilhelm der Erste, „der Große“) than the fantastic Seifert organ in St. Josef church. It possesses a lot of old and very fine characteristic stops dated from the early 20. century. Their very individual and surprising sound is perfectly adapted to the expressive and sensitive compositions of our op. 59.

Among them absolutly rare: the Prinzipal 32′ (open diapason 32′) consisting in pipes with real length, until the deepest tone C, the biggest pipe is 11 m! And it’s rather a miracle, that one can use it combined with ppp stops. Max Reger would have admired it. Hear it in No 10 Capriccio (pp-section). I’m sure you like it. Listen to the extract here:

For the actif organists among you I point at the fact, that I realized this recording without any help of other persons, completly by myself: registration, score handling, crescendo etc.. I try to do so in any case (the violinist or the oboist do ever so), but in the case of a real historic organ help by a second person is necessary from time to time.


And to end this news, I add the final part of No. 5 Toccata:

To be continued!



Andreas Arand