Rheinberger: Organ Works, Vol. 6: Sonata No. 11; Sonata No. 12; Preludes, WoO 26/1, & in C minor, WoO 56; Trio, WoO 25/9; Epilogue

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COMPOSERS: Rheinberger
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Organ Works, Vol. 6: Sonata No. 11; Sonata No. 12; Preludes, WoO 26/1, & in C minor, WoO 56; Trio, WoO 25/9; Epilogue
PERFORMER: Rudolf Innig (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 317 0896-2
Occupying a midpoint between Mendelssohn and Brahms, Rheinberger was a prolific and fluent craftsman of organ art. His music is at its most engaging when it dares to raise its head above the parapet of comfortable sentimentality, and it requires a performer who is willing to collude in this task. The turbulent and unsettled opening to the 11th Sonata ought to grip one from the outset, but neither player nor instrument quite manages it here. The organ is a rather uninspiring Kuhn instrument, possessing reeds which absolutely refuse to form a happy partnership with the rest of the organ (they sound late and always protrude) and it is recorded without clarity or brilliance. In the same sonata, the Cantilène, modelled on Bach’s famous ‘Air on the G string’, needs to sing a sweet song rather than plod along, bored and disconsolate, as it does here. The 12th Sonata comes off better, with its grander opening gestures, and beautifully poised slow movement. The last movement, an Introduction and Fugue, approaches the contrapuntal intensity of Reger, though dissipates into Rheinberger’s usual sweet remembrance of themes past just at the point when things could have got really interesting. As valuable as a complete Rheinberger recording is, I can’t help feeling there is more duty than pleasure here. William Whitehead

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