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Malcolm Riley
Gramophone, May 2014

Vol 13 of Naxos’s Reger Complete Organ Works series starts with another fine performance of the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor. Christian Barthen attacks it with…dramatic thrust…The 1911 Steinmeyer in Mannheim’s Christuskirche is another perfect choice for the Lisztian First Sonata. The half-dozen Monologues…reveal Reger’s poetic side, in contrast to his customary contrapuntal extravagance. The gem here is the Ave Maria—an exquisite interlude in an otherwise rich meal of late and grandiose Romanticism. © 2014 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

BBC Music Magazine, December 2013

An attractive introduction to Reger’s organ music: some important works played with flair on an instrument from the composer’s day. © 2013 BBC Music Magazine

Choir & Organ, November 2013

Barthen performs all these works with style and aplomb—a name to watch © 2013 Choir & Organ

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2013

Max Reger composed corner stones of the organ repertoire, though his life was cut short and his career lasted little more than twenty years. Yet in that time he created a large compendium of scores, this complete recorded cycle now having reached its thirteenth volume. Here performed on an instrument built in Reger’s lifetime in Mannheim, and which remains one of the largest organs in Germany, its power can be felt in a recording that appears to have had the microphones placed very deep into the nave. It is most atmospheric in the quiet moments, but becomes opaque in loud passages. The choice of works covers much of Reger’s life, the fine Fantasia and Fuge in C minor coming from his twenty-fifth year, its fugue a masterpiece of academic rectitude. The title Monlogues hides away an imposing series of pieces including a Fantasia, Toccata and Fugue of varying complexity. Christian Barthen brings admirable clarity to the extended Fugue, but I would have liked the Scherzo, which ends the six, to have been a little faster, though I guess in this church acoustic it would have become a blur. The First Sonata in F sharp minor is a heavyweight piece, particularly in the finale when everything is let loose. This is where the church acoustic again defies clarity, as we had probably expected in the preceding Intermezzo. The soloist, winner of several major awards, is still studying with the famous Ludger Lohmann, and here makes a very promising Naxos debut. © David’s Review Corner

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