Arrangements and original chamber-music works by a pre-eminent Romantic-era master of the organ.
The organ sonatas of Josef Rheinberger still feature large in the repertoire of church organists everywhere, thanks to their attractive melodies and fluent writing for the instrument. Rheinberger’s industry and his skill as a teacher have overshadowed his gifts as a composer in other genres, which this new release helps to redress with suites and tone-pictures for the combination of strings and organ. Oboist Cristina Monticoli also joins her Italian colleagues for two arrangements which sympathetically transfer the main melodies of movements from the organ sonatas to the oboe.
While Rheinberger’s Abendlied Op.69 No.2 holds a Brahmsian appeal for choruses, his instrumental Abendlied Op.150 is much less familiar. Yet the combination of string-instrument and organ is intensely evocative of the warm mood of recollection intrinsic to the German genre of ‘Evening Songs’; Rheinberger balances the two instruments with great skill and sympathy so that the organ always supports the cello’s noble cantabile.
The Abendlied features here in two recordings; arranged for cello, and in its original version for violin, as part of the complete set of six pieces. Cellist Marco Dalsass also contributes an arrangement of the Pastorale and Elegie from the same set, and it proves fascinating to compare the angelic song of the violin with the warmer baritonal register of the cello in the same music.
Both violin and cello join the organ for the Suite Op.149: a substantial four-movement work lasting 40 minutes, opening in a passionate but Baroque-inflected C minor. A meditative set of variations on an original theme is followed by a solemn sarabande, beautifully conceived for all three instruments in the vein of a Romantic slow movement but essentially ecclesiastical in tone. Baroque forms – a free-flowing prelude, a tender Canzone and graceful Allemande – also soften the C minor tonality of the Suite Op.166 for violin and organ, before the Moto perpetuo finale brings the suite to a dazzling close with the most extrovert music in the collection.
Any listener with a taste for Romantic chamber music will take pleasure from this new release, recorded on a historically appropriate organ (dating from 1874, built by the German Steinmeyer firm) in the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Trieste.
Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) was a German romantic composer of mainly works for the organ, his own instrument. He was one of the leading figures in the “Cecilian Movement” which, in a world of increasing secularization, propagated the return to religious values of the past, expressing itself in a renewed interest in Gothic architecture and polyphony.
Rheinberger’s works are a happy blend of the Romantic spirit of his time and a healthy dose of polyphony and counterpoint, in this he was a worthy successor of Felix Mendelssohn.
This new recording presents works for organ in combination with other solo instruments: the violin, cello and oboe, resulting in highly attractive works full of melodious charm and beauty, embedded in the rich coloristic possibilities of the organ. Included are a Suite for violin, cello and organ, a Suite and 6 Stücke for violin and organ, and several shorter works for cello and organ and oboe and organ.
Played with loving affection by Michela Bergamasco (violin), Cristina Monticoli (oboe), Marco Dalsass (cello) and Manuel Tomadin (organ). The organ is an historic instrument, built by Georg Friedrich Steinmeyer in 1874, in the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Trieste, Italy, the specifications of which are included in the booklet.