The Strad issue
Even top performances can’t rescue Reger’s suites from the practice room
Ulrich Horn (cello)
Reger’s cello suites are a little bit like cod liver oil: they’re good for you, but would you want to live on them alone? There are a few glimmers of musical hope in this turgid if earnest sub-Bach fare, but not enough to dispel the inevitable tedium of an entire disc of second-rate unaccompanied cello music, copiously populated with double-stops set adrift in an ocean of mildly chromatic cascading semiquavers. Nonetheless this well-recorded release certainly benefits from an excellent performance from Ulrich Horn, who faithfully extracts every minute shade of dynamics and nuance from the scores.
Of the three suites the second in D minor has the most to offer. The technical aspect is delivered with impressive bravura, and Horn brings a particularly vivid and intense approach with appropriate gravitas to the opening P and finds charm in the Gavotte. The A minor Suite likewise has some saving graces, such as the strongly characterised concluding Variations.
If you’re a cellist studying these works and want a good recording, then this CD offers a commanding rendition and as many insights as it is fair to expect. Yet it does nothing to dispel the thought that these suites are probably best left in the practice room.