Reger: Violin Concerto, Op. 101; Two Romances, Op. 50

Tanja Becker-Bender / Lothar Zagrosek

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Reger: Violin Concerto, Op. 101; Two Romances, Op. 50 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Volume 11 of Hyperion's series, The Romantic Violin Concerto, is devoted to the music of Max Reger, whose immense Violin Concerto in A major, Op. 101, and the Two Romances, Op. 50, are the featured works. Performed by violinist Tanja Becker-Bender and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, conducted by Lothar Zagrosek, the Violin Concerto is grandiose, lush, and expansive, epitomizing the post-Romantic preferences for large-scale forms, luxurious orchestration, and densely wrought ideas, while the Two Romances are comparatively modest in their length and transparent in content. Yet the emotional warmth and rich sonorities of Reger's music make the concerto seem less overwhelming than it does in any description, and Becker-Bender communicates intimacy and personal style in her confident performances, even though the solo part at times seems overly complex and meandering. Listeners who have yet to develop an appreciation for Reger would do well to try the romances first, and use them as a means to gain entry into the concerto. Thanks to the wonderful acoustics of the Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, the orchestra sounds gorgeous, and the careful microphone placement keeps Becker-Bender front and center, so the elaborate scoring doesn't drown out her sound.

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