Alban Gerhardt / Markus Becker

Reger: Cello Sonatas

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These are possibly the best sonatas for cello and piano since Brahms and the best suites for cello solo since Bach. And they are by none other than Max Reger: the hard-working, hard-drinking Bavarian composer who saw himself as those composers' musical heir. As performed by cellist Alban Gerhardt and pianist Markus Becker, Reger's works for cello substantiate the comparisons. The sonatas and suites come from every stage of his compositional career, from the very early Sonata in F minor, Op. 5, to the very late Opus 131 suites, written only two years away from his premature death. Gerhardt has a strong yet subtle technique that easily lets him slip into Reger's long-limbed themes and contrapuntal textures, plus a rich but clear tone and a way of phrasing that keeps the music moving even when the tempo is Largo. Pianist Becker joins Gerhardt as a full partner in the sonatas where the piano writing is as prominent and virtuosic as the cello writing, and he's fully up to the task. Becker's big but nuanced tone allows him to blend, balance, and often oppose Gerhardt's stalwart cello. Hyperion's 2007 digital sound is warm, round, deep, and inviting.

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