Max Reger (1873-1916) was an imposing composer in his own right, but also a key link between European late romanticism and what came after, especially for his influence on the Viennese school, Schoenberg first and foremost. Yet his music has not always been given the attention it deserves in the United States.
Why that is cannot be the subject of this posting, assuming I could sum all that up cogently in a short space or that I knew all the ins and outs of the reception history of the past hundred years.
With the new recording of two of his principal Violin Sonatas, the No. 3, op. 41 and the No. 2 op. 3 (CPO 777445-2) we can at least hear for ourselves two characteristic and representative works, played with care and passion by Ulf Wallin on violin and Roland Pontinen at the piano.
These are works that have formal heft as well as affective impact. There is no shortage of thematic material and the working out of form is masterful.
It is the music of his era, filtered through a musical vision that saw its way through the formless excesses of the times into a new kind of musical classicism.
These are dense works, works of a serious, somber cast, in every way showing the sure hand of a master. Wallin and Pontinen do them justice. Recommended.