Music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony, Leon Botstein, has established a reputation for innovative programming and for rediscovering unusual repertoire and bringing it back into the concert hall. In the new recording, Botstein leads the London Philharmonic in three highly romantic orchestral works by Max Reger, all written relatively late in the composer's short life.
The Four Tone Poems After Arnold Bocklin were inspired by four paintings by the Swiss artist Bocklin, whose works were extremely popular at the turn of the century: "The Hermit Playing the Violin," "In the Play of the Waves," "The Isle of the Dead," and "Bacchanal."
The orchestral song To Hope, originally written for alto and piano, is a setting of a text by Freidrich Holderlin, termed "perhaps the most important German Romantic poet" by Botstein in the booklet notes for this recording. It is given a radiant performance here by mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers.
A Romantic Suite is directly connected to texts written by the German poet Josef von Eichendorff, whose words have been set to music by several other composers. Reger included the texts of Eichendorff's poems in the score to his Suite, calling this his first excursion into the realm of program music.
These works are very scarce on recording—only one other version is available of the Tone Poems and An die Hoffnung, and only two of A Romantic Suite.