Classics Today 10/10; Diapason d'Or de l'année.
Max Reger is much better known as a "famous composer" than for his music as such. This disc provides a new approach to a great composer by focusing on his writing for the viola. Though the chamber-music repertoire for the viola is limited, there is an illustrious roster of composers who have given it serious attention. One thinks immediately of Brahms and Shostakovich who turned to the instrument at the very ends of their lives, of Hindemith who brought to his composing all the insights into the instrument that he had acquired as one of the great performers on the viola, and of Mozart who "doubled" the instrument to such effect in his immortal string quintets. Reger, who had a remarkably open attitude to music – detesting, as he put it himself, all forms of musical prejudice – had a special affection for Bach's music and, in his own lifetime he was already known as the "second Bach". The three Suites for Solo Viola recorded here make no secret of their composer's debt to the great master of counterpoint. When he wrote the suites for solo viola, Max Reger had already made a serious contribution to the viola repertoire with music in a very different style in the form of an extended sonata for viola and piano. Nobuko Imai, who has done so much for the viola on BIS, is joined in the sonata performance by Ronald Brautigam who is well known to BIS fans for his fortepiano recordings of Mozart and Haydn as well as for his Mendelssohn. This disc fills an important repertoire gap with performances of commitment and notable artistic authority.
Some press voices:
"Nobuko Imai impose une sonorité royale, une justesse absolue et une conduite de la ligne mélodique d'une parfaite élégance ... un disque d'une exigeante et rare beauté." Diapason January 2004
"Gorgeous sonics, first-class musicianship, and substantial compositions that deserve wider recognition: these are ingredients that add up to an unqualified "must-have" recommendation." Classicstoday.com
"Ein interpretatorisches Niveau, das vom ersten bis zum letzten Takt massstäblich zu nennen ist." Fono Forum February 2004