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.