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Six Pieces for violin and organ, Op 150

'Rheinberger: Suites for organ, violin and cello' (CDH55211)
Rheinberger: Suites for organ, violin and cello
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No 1: Thema mit Veränderungen
Track 5 on CDH55211 [6'57] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 2: Abendlied
Track 6 on CDH55211 [3'27] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 3: Gigue
Track 7 on CDH55211 [4'36] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 4: Pastorale
Track 8 on CDH55211 [3'50] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 5: Elegie
Track 9 on CDH55211 [3'46] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 6: Ouverture
Track 10 on CDH55211 [7'21] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Six Pieces for violin and organ, Op 150
The variations which make up the first of the Six Pieces, Op 150, are possibly even more wide-ranging and improvisatory than those in the Suite, Op 149. The theme is in the manner of a sarabande, with a dramatic interrupted cadence in the twelfth bar, which is reinterpreted in many different ways in the course of the piece. The first variation begins by sticking to the harmonic outline of the theme, but soon the violin’s cantilena is winging its own independent way. There is an interesting change in texture for the second variation, with the violin playing on its lowest string and the organ above it. The third is in the style of a caprice, with continuous semiquavers for the violin and chordal accompaniment from the organ. The fourth and final variation is like a miniature violin concerto, complete with cadenza, ending quietly in the major.

The other pieces in the set are all in fairly traditional forms, in an idiom familiar from his Monologues and Character Pieces for solo organ. Abendlied, Pastorale and Elegie all demonstrate Rheinberger’s ability to spin long and expressive melodic lines, and he thought highly enough of them to arrange them for cello. Even in the simple song form of a piece like Abendlied, he confounds our expectations by interrupting the reprise with new material. The third movement is a Gigue, with a certain earthy, peasant-like quality to it. The adagio of the sixth movement combines the sharply dotted rhythms of the French overture with the rhetorical flourishes of the nineteenth-century virtuoso. The energetic fugato which follows moves effortlessly in and out of passages of contrasting lyricism. The opening dotted style returns at the end to round the piece off in a grand and dramatic manner.

from notes by Stephen Westrop © 1996

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