WORKS: Der Stern von Bethlehem; Rhapsody for Oboe and Organ; Organ Sonata No. 7
PERFORMER: Dorothee Jansen (soprano), Bernhard Spingler (baritone), Gerhard Vetter (oboe), Peter Dicke (organ); Cologne Radio Choir & Orchestra/Helmuth Froschauer
CATALOGUE NO: 10 551
Twenty years ago Rheinberger, aesthetically speaking, was a no-go area and his role in 19th- century music was largely ignored. Fortunately things have changed and much fine music – beyond the familiar organ sonatas – is seeing the light of day once more.
Der Stern von Bethlehem dates from 1890 and sets poetry on the Nativity by his wife, Fanny von Hoffnaass. The performers here capture Rheinberger’s judicious pacing of the narrative perfectly, and remind one of the composer’s skills in orchestration. This is not transcendence-inducing music but it is written in both an entertaining and educative manner rather reminiscent of the earlier biblical story-telling of Mendelssohn and Spohr.
The reading of the Organ Sonata in F minor is good, but it frequently lacks the melodic shaping that is so apparent in the performance of the Rhapsody for oboe and organ; the latter is a delightful piece well worth finding. Andrew McCrea