Trio for Violin, Viola and Piano in b minor, Op.2
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. 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.
The Op.2 Trio is an early work dating from 1891. Reger's works from this period are markedly different from his later works in which he sought to find a new path for tonality without resorting to the atonalism of Schonberg and his follows. Works from his early period, such as this fine trio, show the influence of Brahms, but in many respects move beyond him, which Reger himself stated was his goal. This is especially apparent in the use of melodic phrases which exceed the normal 8 measure limits then standard. The emotionally powerful opening movement, Allegro appassionato ma non troppo, begins in a dark, searching vein, which though reminiscent of Brahms also shows that Reger, even at this early stage, is striving to go beyond the older master. The wonderful lyricism that one hears shows the composer's clear affinity for vocal music. The middle movement, marked Scherzo, is an unusual mixture, at times like a intermezzo, at other times like a heavy-footed scherzo. Reger's choice for a finale, Adagio con variazione, is quite unusual. The genre of theme and variation was a favorite of Reger's and even in his early works, he clearly showed himself a master of this form. The opening Adagio theme is leisurely, lyrical and somewhat sad. Five large variation follow, the first one and the final two both in mood and tempo are close to the opening theme, while the middle two, which are full of passion rise to the what is the dramatic climax of the entire work. (our soundbite presents the theme and the middle two variations)
Unjustly ignored, this fine work would make an excellent choice for the concert hall but also can be warmly recommended to amateur trio groups. Long out of print, we are pleased to reintroduce this fine trio. Our edition is the only one with rehearsal letters.