Max Reger has a reputation of being dour and rigorous, almost mathematical; after hearing this concerto, I would call him dramatic, rhetorical, convincing, and deeply romantic. It’s an odd approach, the way the first movement, Allegro Moderato, presents argument after argument about how passionate it is— from the opening bass drum roll to the cloud-dispelling second theme to its final desperate moments, it simply will not let go of head or heart. The Largo second movement is more stoic than steamy, but even there the calm explodes eventually. The Allegretto is lugubrious but not unsmiling. Hamelin and the orchestra roar through the Allegro Moderato; the Largo is pensive and spacious. In Richard Strauss’s winning Burleske, our pianist is a little earnest, even pushy, in the first half, but there’s some true romance and humor in the second. Hamelin’s technique is, as you probably know, phenomenal, and when he’s at his wizardly best, he makes the piano mutter, whisper, sing, and shout, poking fun at a stodgy clarinet at one point. The sound (Haus des Rundfunks, Berlin) is slightly constricted, but less opulence keeps murkiness at bay.