REGER: String Trios Nos. 2 & 1 / String Trio Il Furibondo: Liana Mosca, vln; Gianni de Rosa, vla; Marcello Scandelli, cel / Solo Musica SM 323
I have an ambivalence towards Reger’s music. Some of it I like very much, some I like a little bit, and some of it I absolutely hate, particularly his organ works which seemed to bring out his most turgid side.
But let’s face it. You look at any photo or drawing of Reger and the word “jolly” never comes to mind. For that matter, he doesn’t even look contented. He always looks as if the photographer has just run over his dear pet cat. He looks like the kind of guy your least-favorite maiden aunt married and drags around to family gatherings. Were he alive today, he could probably do a great Brother Theodore imitation.
Being an Italian trio, however, Il Furibondo brings a bit of the Latin touch to his music. This doesn’t help a great deal in the sad or turgid passages, but in the livelier moments they manage to perk his music up a little. Nevertheless, you have to accept the sad with the energetic in Reger, and they do not gloss over these sections or make them uninteresting to listen to.
I was also quite surprised to hear occasional moments of portamento in their playing—historically accurate but not what most people “want” to hear nowadays. Like so many CDs that come my way nowadays, these two works are programmed on the CD in the reverse order of their composition. I have no idea why except that some people consider the second trio to be a richer and more mature composition. But isn’t the whole point of hearing older works that one should be able to hear an artist’s development? Imagine a CD of assorted Beethoven Sonatas that begins with the “Waldstein” or No. 30, then gives you the “Pathétique,” and then jumps backwards to Sonata No. 1. What’s the purpose of that?
But to be truthful, the first string trio is written in the same vein though it tends to be clearer in texture than the second.
I think what impressed me most about these works was their generally quiet and “inner” means of expression. I’ve always felt that Reger was a lonely man in his personal and private life, and much of his music reflects that loneliness. This is not music that will lift your spirits, but it is music that will turn you towards self-reflection, and Il Furibondo bring out all the desolation and loneliness in this music.
—© 2020 Lynn René Bayley
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