Reger is the man who, famously after a bad review, replied "I am in the smallest room of my house. At the moment your review is in front of me. Soon it will be behind me". "Well Done", I say "about time these cretinous critics were told the truth about themselves". Like Schoenberg, Reger is a composer more heard about than actually heard and in consequence too much utter rubbish is thrown at both of them. Reger, is it claimed, could not orchestrate and whilst it is true the orchestration is often overloaded and 'thick' it is obvious that is how Reger wanted it to sound. I have loved the music for decades ever since I heard the '4 Tone Poems after Bocklin' in the days when the BBC broadcast such music and not the cliche-ridden crap they churn out nowadays fronted for most of time by musical illiterates who talk down at the listener in cliches. This set is an ideal purchase to dispel the myths. It contains the major works including the Mozart, Beethoven and Hiller Variations, the Bocklin Tone Poems, and the magnificent 'Symphonic Prologue to a Tragedy'. Marvellous performances of the Violin and Piano Concertos (as good as those on Hyperion) and some of the vocal & choral music including the gloriously overblown setting of Holderlin's poem 'An die Hoffnung' (op.146). There is one disc devoted to Reger's Chamber Music (the String Trio (op.77b) and the Clarinet Quintet. Personally I could have done without the 2 discs of the Chorale Fantasias for organ good though they are, and would have preferrecd instead more of Reger's Choral Music especially the so-called of the Requiem. But perhaps Brilliant couldn't get the rights to these recordings. Not withstanding this, this is a superb set, the ideal introduction to Reger's music and, at the modest price being asked, well worth acquiring even if you already have alternative versions of some of the music on your shelves.
Reger's organ music sounds original, for all its academic contrapuntal tendencies. Listening to his orchestral music makes me feel that he just doesn't settle for quality ideas, then develop them intensively and concentratedly enough to achieve 'greatness'. Maybe his lack of striking ideas is what makes him settle for variations on other composers' themes, and the ho-hum developments dicatate his avoidance of symphonic form?
£7.49 for 11CDs of MP3 tracks is excellent value, especially as most of the music is little known but interesting. Maybe some of the performances are not absolutely top drawer (hence only 4 stars) but all are very enjoyable.