Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Reger: String Trio in A Minor (Amar-Hindemith Trio)

This is one of those recordings that I am particularly excited to possess and to share; however, about 98% of the excitement derives from the identities of the performers rather than of the composer, for Max Reger (1873-1916) is, for me, a problematical figure in music history. I respect Reger as a craftsman and as a carrier of the Austro-German chamber music tradition, but as much as I've tried, I can't really like his music. (I do retain some fondness for his orchestral Serenade, Op. 95, and its neighboring opus, the Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue for two pianos, Op. 96 - with its comically interminable fugue subject culminating in a trill that sounds almost as an afterthought!) Part of the problem, I suspect, is that the weight of this tradition bogged him down - and those works without such weight, such as the serenades and string trios, seem to be more successful as a result. Certainly committed performances help. I remember reading somewhere (alas, I can't remember where) that Reger was a strong influence on Paul Hindemith as a budding composer, so it's not at all surprising that he and his cohorts should turn out a performance of this string trio that makes it sound as one of Reger's more enjoyable works:

Reger: String Trio No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77b
The Amar Trio (Walter Caspar, Paul Hindemith, Rudolf Hindemith)
Recorded c. 1927
Polydor 66575 through 66577, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 56.18 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 37.25 MB)

For those unaware (as I was, until about six weeks ago), the super-rare acoustical version of the Amar Quartet's performance of Hindemith's Quartet, Op. 22, has been reissued in download format by a German outfit called Archiphon Records, and in quite a good transfer, too. It's well worth buying (which one can do here), but for those not wanting to download, the various tracks have been "autogenerated" as YouTube videos (a search on "amar hindemith archiphon" should bring them up).


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  2. Dear Bryan, Thank you very much indeed! I believe you're right that this is the first complete recording of a chamber work by Reger - I certainly don't know of any earlier ones, only 'snippets'. Very best wishes, Nick

    1. Hi Nick, even in the '36 Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia, this is still the only available Reger work listed taking more than 2 sides - although by that time the Amar-Hindemith set had been replaced with the Klingler one on Electrola. For the rest, there are scherzi from the Clarinet Quintet, the Op. 109 string quartet, the violin sonata movement that Adolf Busch recorded, movements from several suites, various organ pieces, and a few songs. The incomplete Mozart Variations that Fritz Busch recorded acoustically for Polydor is listed, too, of course noted as withdrawn.

  3. Am I the only person who is excited about this *because* it is Reger?

    Much of his chamber music is IMHO delightful and I've had the good fortune to hear both his flute trio and clarinet quintet live in the last few years.

    Many, many thanks and I hope Bryan you do one day manage to come to terms with history's only (AFAIK) palindromic composer. (As opposed to composer of palindromes, like the minuet of Haydn's Symphony No.47...)


  4. Thank you very much for this! I have to admit to not being (yet) fully on the Reger bandwagon, but I _do_ like this particular work, and anything from these performers is precious. Thank you, also, for the tip about the Archiphon Hindemith release!

  5. Thanks! I'm very interested in recordings with Licco Amar and the Hindemith brothers.

  6. THX for this post Bryan. Always interesting to discover new pieces performed convincingly, what is the case here. I felt same with his PC with Serkin/Ormandy. I am not a big fan of Reger's music (except his Boecklin Suite !!!). Just have the feeling that inspiration is 'stuck' by the permanent care of the form.

  7. Thank you, Bryan!! Such a treasure, as ever! The ensemble is much sought after and I personally love how they play! Thank you again!!!