While it is nearly certain the seventh volume in Edgar Krapp's survey of the complete organ music of Max Reger will thrill the composer's fans, it is almost as certain that it is unlikely to win him new converts. The fin de siècle composer with the gnarliest themes, the knottiest counterpoint, and the knurliest textures, Reger is at his most characteristic in his organ works, and thus, for some, at his least approachable. Still, for fans of the composer, Krapp's series of recordings, with their impressive technique, impervious fidelity, and ineluctable rhythms, are the gold standard in Reger's organ music. This particular volume features what Reger himself called his most difficult organ work -- the massive and monumental Symphonic Fantasia and Fugue, Op. 57 -- and couples it with a less strenuously argued work -- the Seven Organ Pieces, Op. 145. In Krapp's performance, Opus 57 has the weight of a dark star, the density of a black hole, and the strength of the strings that hold the universe together, while his Opus 145, though conveniently given programmatic titles to aid identification and facilitate understanding, still has the mass of Ununbium, the heaviest element known to humanity. Still, for those who enjoy the music of the only composer whose last name forms a palindrome, these are all good, even appealing qualities, and for them, this disc will be compulsory listening. Recorded in Passau Cathedral, Naxos' organ sound has the in-your-face quality of a brick.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphonic Fantasia and Fugue for organ, Op. 57 ("Inferno")|
|Pieces (7) for organ, Op. 145|