The German pianist Markus Becker recorded the complete solo piano works of Max Reger (1873-1916) back in the early 2000s. Now they have been reissued as a 12-disc box set.
Markus Becker. Photo © Irène Zandel
In his short life Reger was immensely prolific, particularly in writing organ, piano and choral music. He was a virtuoso pianist, and although he did not make a career in that role, the first thing that struck me about this music was its difficulty. Some of it is overblown (such as the Six Intermezzi, Op. 45), but most of it sparkles and is packed with fresh ideas.
The Preludes and Fugues Op. 99 are wonderful, the best after Johann Sebastian Bach (including those by Dmitri Shostakovich). Among Reger’s many albums of short genre pieces, the Bunte BlätterOp. 36 stand out for their delightful light touch. The collection includes the composer’s two dazzling sets of variations...