WORKS: Organ Works, Vol. 1: Sonata No. 1; Sonata No. 2; Sonata No. 3; Sonata No. 4
PERFORMER: Wolfgang Rübsam (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554212
Both organists on these issues try to give Rheinberger’s rather bland music a sort of rugged quality by rhythmic bending, particularly by agogic accents, which draw attention to a note by hesitating before it. I feel like giving them a kick and telling them to get on with it, but oddly enough, it’s Wolfgang Rübsam (much of whose Bach for Naxos is rugged to the point of sounding laboured), who gets Rheinberger’s music to flow more naturally. He plays the large 72-stop organ in Fulda Cathedral, Germany, the technical history of which seems rather confusing from the German-language specification in the booklet. It’s a fine instrument, if not a terribly characterful one; but though Naxos’s recording lacks depth and has a restricted dynamic range, it’s clear, and Rübsam’s registration is varied and well-balanced, doing a lot to alleviate Rheinberger’s monotony.
Rudolf Innig plays a smaller, 35-stop organ built in 1844 by Walcker (not to be confused with the English firm of Walker). It has a more distinctively Romantic character – a mellow warmth that is attractive at first but can seem cloying after a while, particularly as Innig likes mixing colours rather than contrasting them. At bargain price, the Naxos series is probably the better bet. Adrian Jack