Cor van Wageningen

Max Reger's Chorale preludes
Het ORGEL 95 (1999), nr. 5, 5-13 [summary]

Before 1900, Max Reger (1873-1916) composed only two chorale preludes: O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid and Komm, süßer Tod. After 1900, he produced three collections of chorale preludes: opus 67 (1900-1903), 79b (1901-1903), 135a (1914). In opus 67 and 79b Reger used five different formal types: preludes in which the melody is quoted without ornamentation and without pre- or postludes per line; preludes in which the melody is quoted without ornamentation, but with additional pre- and interludes; preludes with an ornamented melody; preludes in which the melody is extended by complete or partial repetition of the lines; and canonical preludes. In the preludes the metamorphosis and development of motives is far less important as in Reger's larger works. The rhythm is in most cases complementary. In opus 135a, independent contrapuntal structures like pre-imitation, interludes and developmental codas are not present. As in opus 67 and 79b, the rhythm is complementary. Motives are not processed or made independent. Remarkable are the differentiated dynamics and the technically rather uncomplicated score. Reger shows in his chorale preludes to be influenced by Bach (the harmonic structures of opus 135a appear to be related to Bach's 'Cantionalsatz'), of 19th century composers (as is shown by the cyclical and metamorphosis techniques Reger uses) and of 17th century composers (echo-techniques, changing of time signatures etc.).