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CD Review

Josef Rheinberger

Complete Organ Works, Volume 12

  • Sonata #19 Op. 193
  • Sonata #20 Op. 196
  • Canzonetta WoO 26,4
  • Intermezzo WoO 26,2
  • Präludium WoO 77
  • Trio WoO 26,6
  • Singmesse
Rudolf Innig, organ
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG317090-2 79m DDD
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This is the last instalment in MD&G's invaluable series of the complete organ works by Josef Rheinberger (1840-1909). Apart from its generous playing time, this disc also contains some of the most beautiful organ music Rheinberger ever composed. It also incorporates what is considered to be the composer's last work in the genre; the 'Singmesse' discovered by Alexander Pointner in 2001. This work consists of a collection of 7 chorales with preludes and postludes with which the organist can make his contribution to all the liturgical parts of the religious service. On this recording, Rudolf Innig transfers these little postscripts to the registers of the echo organ thus clothing them with a true active life.

The 2 main items on the disc are the Organ Sonatas #19 and #20 composed in 1899 and 1901 respectively. They are two works full of splendour and light apart from their mould in the true mark of German organ romanticism. They are both nearly half an hour long, but their beauty makes them pass in a whiff. Maybe #20 should be played more often as it has the dedication, 'For the Celebration of Peace', a rare commodity these days.

Rheinberger was planning to write 24 such sonatas, but his poor health deprived him from achieving this dream so these are the last two in this category. For good measure, MD&G also include 4 short pieces to complete this last instalment in a project that has taken 7 years to complete. The organ in this recording is one of the most exciting sounds I have ever experienced. It is the Kuhn organ in St. Anthony's Church in Zürich; masterfully played by Rudolf Innig. Throughout the series this accomplished musician took his listeners to the 6 great historical organs in Chur, Schaffhausen, Schramberg, Wintherthur and Zürich. The journey is now complete and organ aficionados should not hesitate to invest in this monumental series.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech