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