Max Reger

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Clarinet Sonata No.1 in A flat Major, Op.49 No.1

Reger's clarinet sonatas were inspired by hearing that of Brahms. It was in 1900 that Reger first heard Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata at a private performance by his former piano teacher Adalbert Lindner and the excellent clarinetist Johann Kurmeyer. Lindner, writing in his memoirs, recalled,

“Reger entered the room during our performance, he listened and said: 'Fine, I am also going to write two such things.' About three weeks later he kept his promise. After he had completed writing the sonatas Reger tested them in a private concert. Kurmeyer, who had studied his part thoroughly, managed this rather difficult task in the best possible way and to the full satisfaction of the master. They repeated the first and last movement of the first sonata several times because of their hidden beauties. Most of all we were delighted by the catchy and gracious second movement with its wonderfully sweet sostenuto episode which, appearing three times, is reminiscent of the familiar folk-song 'Ach wie ist's möglich dann?’ (`Oh how is it possible?), and by the unworldly and dreamy Larghetto with its pithy mosso assai middle section in B flat minor, which depicts a furious but quickly dissolving awakening. The creator of this work, which is full of longing, sang himself into everyone's heart. The last movement, Prestissimo assai' again breathes a healthy, almost exuberant sense of humor".

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. He studied with the eminent musicologist Hugo Riemann. In 1907, Reger was appointed to the prestigious position of Professor of Composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. By then, he was widely regarded as one of the best living conductors and organists. In a career that only lasted 20 years,  Reger wrote a prodigious amount of music in virtually every genre except opera and the symphony. Chamber music figures prominently within his oeuvre. Reger showed an affinity for the clarinet and his writing for that instrument is particularly fine and inspired. He wrote several works for the instrument as well as his Op.146 Quintet for Clarinet and Strings.

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