Rheinberger: Organ Sonata No. 1, Op. 27; Preludes and Fugues

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COMPOSERS: Rheinberger
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Organ Sonata No. 1, Op. 27; Preludes and Fugues
PERFORMER: Rudolf Innig (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 317 0891-2
Rheinberger is probably best known, amongst organ specialists at least, for his twenty organ sonatas which span his entire creative output, and which display his refined mastery of counterpoint and expressive use of chromatism. Rudolph Innig’s complete survey of Rheinberger’s works for organ takes a chronological overview, and thus the works in this first volume all come from the composer’s formative years, culminating in his first mature work, the First Organ Sonata of 1869. Rheinberger’s rigorous training in the art of fugue pervades most of his early works, and the stylistic influences of Bach and, more obviously, Mendelssohn, are not so much suggested here as replicated, almost literally on occasion. However, Innig gives favourable accounts of these early works on the 1844 Walcker organ of St Maria in Schramberg, an instrument sympathetic to Rheinberger’s flowing but thickly-textured contrapuntal style. The tautly constructed Great Fugue in F minor of 1853 comes off particularly well, Innig using the larger reeds of the organ to striking effect. Although strongly reliant on quasi-Mendelssohnian harmonic progressions, the Sonata in C minor gives a clear indication of things to come in its economical yet imaginative use of musical material, and Innig creates considerable momentum, especially in the culminating fugue. A promising start to a very worthwhile venture. Stephen Haylett