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Posted July 29, 2011
The performance of Twelve pieces Opus 80 and Thirteen Chorale Preludes Opus 79b by Max Reger heralds a standard of excellence of the organ at the Fulda Cathedral and technical accuracy by Hans-Jürgen Kaiser. The velvety flutes and commanding principals attract the listener immediately. The stunning sound quality suggests that a visit to the organ in the ancient German city of Fulda should not be postponed, in order to hear more, sooner, and in person.
Professor Kaiser's recording, in the series of Reger complete organ works, provides an example for the student or organist to emulate. Some of the chorale preludes on the familiar hymn tunes such as Ein feste Berg, Mit Fried und Freud, Christus der ist mein Leben, Nun danket, Warum sollt are lovely examples for the listener, the worshipper. But others do not have the same appeal. Why does an organist repeatedly pass by some compositions in favor of the appeal of certain favorites? What makes an attraction for the audience? Some indeed are fine pieces; but others sound dissonant rather than lush or striking. Some are difficult for the "regular Sunday organist" to prepare quickly and readily for service use.
Max Reger's biography reveals a troubled personality and discouraged artistry. Perhaps the difficulties of his life provide an explanation for the lack of appeal of his works. And yet The Max Reger Foundation in America is devoted to his music and to the education of young musicians, so an active appreciation of his life and works continues to this day.
This cd is certainly to the credit of Hans-Jürgen Kaiser and the Rieger-Sauer Organ at Fulda Cathedral. Performance skill and the recording of the works of Reger is a worthy reason for making the recording. Yet Reger's lasting appeal to the organist and to the congregation remains uncertain.