Keilberth/Hamburg State PO: Reger Hiller Variations Op. 100 - Telefunken SLT 43064
Jacket VG / LP EX / German pressing
This outstanding LP from Telefunken (SLT 43064, German pressing, blue label, electronic stereo) features conductor Joseph Keilberth and the (Philharmonische Staatsorchester, Hamburg) Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra’s resplendent account of Max Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme by JA Hiller Op. 100, recorded in the warm acoustics of the Osterstrasse, Hamburg, on 29 March 1955 – one of the great Reger discs.
The underrated Keilberth was a remarkable musician, one now enjoying critical reassesment following Testament's issue of his transcendent 1955 Bayreuth Wagner 'Ring Cycle'. Hopefully, this will lead to further re-issues from Keilberth's large and highly distinguished discography. His Reger is revelatory, and the Telefunken engineering is superb throughout.
Wrote the critic T.H. in his review for the April 1956 issue of The Gramophone:
“I have always been so much in love with Reger's Mozart Variations that readers must expect me to be biased now that one can at last get to know the Hiller set, never performed in this country. However, I must admit that because you may love one, it is not certain that you will fall for the other. The Mozarts consist of eight variations, beautiful and at the same time well contrasted, followed by a first-class orchestral fugue, the whole lasting half-an-hour or so. The Fillers run to eleven variations, some of them very long, and another equally good fugue, and they take all of two :2-inch sides, well-filled sides at that. Reger's range is limited and even I find one side at a time enough at one go. But why should I or other enthusiasts grumble? To do just that, to play as much or as little as we want, is exactly what the gramophone (and no other means of listening to an orchestra) allows us to do.
“The performance sounds excellently played and recorded, with a good rich sound to it, and conductor and orchestra obviously have the music in their blood. I cannot go into more detail for, alas, Eulenburg, who used to publish a miniature score, have not reprinted it and my copy got burnt in a little conflagration I had some time ago. However, that is not such a great disadvantage, for Hiller's jaunty tune is easy to remember and one can follow what happens to it—a good deal, anyway—even at a first hearing.
“Now can we please have the Mozart Variations on LP (the American LP catalogue offers one recording by van Beinum), for they are a later composition and a finer work ? If you are new to Reger I would recommend them first. There was an excellent performance by Böhm on 78s (H.M.V.) which might still be found second-hand.”
Incidentally, the cover art reproduces Franz Nölken’s 1916 drawing of composer Max Reger. There are excellent liner notes (uncredited) on the reverse side of the jacket, printed in both German and English.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the laminated jacket is VERY GOOD. There is a scuff/scrape to the upper-right corner of the front panel, as well as minor bumping at corners. However, there are no seamsplits, owners’ markings, bends, or other defects, and the album remains solid, bright, glossy, and highly attractive – overall, a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT. Although the surfaces are not absolutely silent, really this is a fine copy and the playback is quite superb. Those requiring CD silent surfaces are kindly advised to look elsewhere. Overall, this rates as an excellent collector's copy.