Schumann: Studies, Op. 56; Sketches, Op. 58; Six Fugues on the name BACH

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm
WORKS: Studies, Op. 56; Sketches, Op. 58; Six Fugues on the name BACH
PERFORMER: Rudolf Innig (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 317 0619-2
The year 1845 proved a turning point in Schumann’s creative life. It followed a particularly anxious and prolonged period of creative sterility, during which he sought inspiration by immersing himself in the study of fugal technique. This seemed to pay handsome dividends, for within months he was writing original keyboard compositions that not only bore witness to his newly-acquired mastery, but also breathed life and colour into a rather archaic art form. The three sets of pieces recorded here were originally conceived for the ‘pedal piano’, an instrument which greatly fired Schumann’s imagination as it combined the touch of a piano with the greater harmonic scope offered by the pedal ‘keyboard’.

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Rudolf Innig gives convincing performances here on the three-manual Klais organ of St Stephanus, Beckum. He demonstrates, especially in the BACH fugues, how well the sustaining power of the organ can emphasise the underlying tension built into the music. He achieves an almost pianistic lightness of touch in the four Sketches, enabling the balletic figurations of the third movement, for example, to really take flight. The recorded sound is acceptable, if rather cloudy. Stephen Haylett