In November 2021 we recorded our first two CDs. In today’s post, we’ll talk about Czerny and Reger. Music for piano four-hands. We explain to you the reason for our choice and what these two great composers represent to us.
The reason that prompted us to record this repertoire was born from the need to vindicate music not performed by composers Carl Czerny and Max Reger for issues that, in our opinion, have nothing to do with the musical quality of their works. We have chosen the Ouverture Caracteristique et Brillante op.54 by Czerny and the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart op.132a de Reger.
The figure of Carl Czerny as a composer, pianist, pedagogue and theorist has been overshadowed by his master Beethoven, one of the fundamental pillars of classical music, and colleagues such as Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert among others. But it is no less true that Czerny has directly contributed to the progress of music with many of his skills. To name a few enlightening examples, Czerny was the one who, as a pianist, premiered the Emperor Concerto op. 73 by Beethoven in Vienna on February 11th, 1812. As a composer, the catalog of published works amounts to more than 800 and many more unpublished. However, it is usually the novice pianists who perform their works the most, specifically the pedagogical studies (which represent only a tinny part of his production) to improve the piano technique. This situation might damage the reputation of his compositions, a reality that probably deters more professional pianists from including any of his pieces in his concert repertoire. In the same way that Beethoven invested his short teaching time in Czerny, he devoted himself to pedagogy as another facet of his profession by teaching Liszt his most talented pupil. And last but not least, as a writer, Czerny recorded some very useful comments to interpret all of Beethoven’s work and has testified to us how his master’s playing and improvisation on the piano with his book Über den richtigen Vortrag der sämtlichen Beethovenschen Klavierwerke.
As for Max Reger, unfortunately, his music has not been programmed in concert halls as often as other composers. In this case, perhaps one of the reasons is that his music is dense and intricate in polyphony, which requires the listener to pay close attention to understand the composition. Reger had a personality characterized by excesses, both personally and musically, and one can sense it in the density, mass, and exaggeration of his music. The difficulty for the audience to delimit a melody when immersed in the turbulence of polyphonic-harmonic textures of romantic-late expressionist style produces a feeling of sound mass, perhaps overwhelming, which can cause saturation and decreased attention. In the same way, it is quite a challenge for the performer to understand such sound texture to interpret it, which can make it difficult to empathize with his work and, consequently, to incorporate it into his repertoire. However, this music poses great quality and its inspiration makes it the successor to the line of thought and style of Brahms, as well as Bach, Handel, Mozart, Telemann, and Beethoven, with his constant gaze on the past. Reger, unlike Brahms, is already entering the twentieth century with the industrial revolution and the machines that will mark the passage of the upcoming decades culturally and socially. Our goal with the interpretation of the music of Reger in four hands is to transmit this transcendence, seriousness, and structure, always arm in arm with clarity, transparency, and colour.