Max Reger

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Quintet in A Major, Op.146

For Clarinet & String Quartet Or 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Violoncello

Although the number of clarinet quintets is small, the number one gets to hear in concert is even smaller, generally only that of Mozart and of Brahms. But Max Regerís clarinet quintet is equally as deserving to be heard.


Max Reger (1873-1916) was born in the small Bavarian town of Brand. He began his musical studies at a young age and his talent for composition became clear early on. His family expected him to become a school teacher like his father and to this end passed the necessary examinations for certification. However, before he landed his first teaching job, he met the eminent musicologist Hugo Riemann, who was so impressed by Regerís talent that he urged him to devote himself entirely to music. Reger studied with him for nearly five years. By 1907 Reger was appointed to the prestigious position of Professor of composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. In addition to this he was widely regarded as one of the best living conductors and organists.


Regerís clarinet quintet is the last of his chamber compositions. It was completed just 10 days before his sudden death of a heart attack. Unlike either Mozart or Brahms, Reger quite unobtrusively embeds the clarinet into the contrapuntal complex of the strings, obviously trying to restrain the idiomatic style of playing to which the clarinet is inclined. He tried to match the tone of the strings very closely and took especial pains not to allow the quintet to degenerate into a concertino. The entry of the main theme in the first movement, Moderato ed amabile, makes this quite clear. It is shared between the clarinet and first violin, without either instrument taking the lead. Formally Reger keeps to classical models. The opening movement follows sonata form but has three themes, the receives considerable attention and is used again in the third movement. The four movements are very closely linked by thematic material. In the second movement, Vivace, the theme resembles that of the first theme of the previous movement. The slow movement, Largo, with its plaintive sighs and dense scoring is particularly impressive. For the finale, Reger, as did Mozart and Brahms before him, chooses a theme with variations. In this case, there are eight variations. For the most part serenity is maintained throughout this autumnal work.


As was the usual custom, the publisher asked Reger to provide an alternate viola part to be used in lieu of the clarinet, thus allowing the work to be performed as a string quintet. This Reger did this and the work is equally effective in this setting.


(A) Clarinet & String Quartet--Parts Only


(B) Clarinet & String Quartet--Parts & Score


(C) Standard  String Quintet (2Vla)--Parts Only


(D) Standard  String Quintet (2Vla)--Parts  & Score


(E) All Six Parts


(F) All Six Parts & Score





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