The Strad Masterclass: Hartmut Rohde on Reger's Viola Sonata op.107
Taking the first movement, the German violist shows why it is so important to study the original clarinet score of this little-heard work, before approaching the viola version
Few violists play this work; my teacher Hatto Beyerle was one of few viola professors in Europe to teach it. He loved it, and in our class it was something very special. He was friends with Adolf Busch and his family, who were students and colleagues of Reger, so he heard many of Reger’s ideas that way. I too had a personal link: I had the pleasure of knowing Reger’s last piano student, who died in the late 1990s. She confirmed what musicologists had told me about interpreting his music: how important it is not to get lost in all his chromaticism and ritardandos.
The sonata was originally written for clarinet. In his version for viola, Reger changed the articulation far more than Brahms did when making viola versions of his own clarinet sonatas. Reger was a pianist, but he was always in contact with top performers and pedagogues, and he worked with musicians including Joseph Joachim to create his works for strings. As a result…