Audio sample: Fantasie, op 68 (opening)
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Total time: 64 minutes 21 seconds
Nicolai von Wilm: Fantasie in F minor, op 68
1. Praeludium und Recitativ (7’13”) 2. Intermezzo: Assai vivo (5’16”) 3. Adagio cantabile e sostenuto (10’11”) 4. Finale: Allegro con brio (6’48”)
Hugo Reinhold (1854-1935): Traunseebilder: 5 Tonstücke, op 55
5. Morgengruss (2’31”) 6. Abendämmerung (5’25”) 7. Echo (2’05”) 8. Barkarole (4’05”) 9. Irrlicht (1’48”)
Nicolai von Wilm: Rondo in E flat major, op 69 no 2 (7’06”)
Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901): Passacaglia: Free concert transcription of the final movement of the Organ Sonata op 132 (11’43”)
Our thanks to Dr Klaus Tischendorf and Peter Cook for supplying scores of these rare works.
Notes on the music
Nicolai von Wilm was born in Riga in 1834 and studied at the Leipzig Conservatoire between 1851 and 1856. The following year he returned to Riga to take up the position of second Kapellmeister at the State Theatre. In 1860 he moved to the Nikolai Institute in St Petersburg, where he taught until 1875, after which he made his home in Wiesbaden.
von Wilm’s output includes around 250 works, including many for piano. This disc represents the first recording of any of his piano compositions. His neglect is surprising in view of the esteem in which he was held in his lifetime, particularly during his time at St Petersburg, and the high quality of his music, which embraces both large-scale works such as the Fantaisie in F minor and much in shorter forms. The Fantaisie shows a clear Bachian influence and also perhaps something of Cesar Franck in its opening pairing of a prelude and recitative. This is music that seeks to make a significant statement, and if that statement is perhaps more notable for its echoing of more prominent composers (notably Schumann) that does not exclude some degree of von Wilm’s own compositional and pianistic individuality. The piano writing, replete with octaves and massive chords, certainly takes few prisoners, but this is counterbalanced by a nonchalant Intermezzo and a fine, deeply-felt slow movement of considerable merit. The Rondo – the second of two forming von Wilm’s op 69 – is rather more Chopinesque in places, and again represents a considerably accomplished style with plenty of melodic invention and contrast.
Hugo Reinhold was a Vienna-based composer who, under the patronage of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, studied at the Conservatorium der Musikfreunde under Bruckner, Felix Dessoff and Julius Epstein. He became a teacher of piano at the Akademie der Tonkunst and acquired a sound reputation as a composer, with his works being performed, inter alia, by the Vienna Philharmonic. His set of five Pictures from the Traunsee was published in 1897 and forms an effective and straightforward collection, somewhat reminiscent of Grieg in places.
The name of Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger is more familiar to organists than to pianists, although he also wrote a good deal of piano music. Rheinberger was a child prodigy, being appointed organist to the parish church of Vaduz at the age of seven. After three years at the Munich Conservatoire (1851-54) he studied privately with Franz Lachner. His appointment as professor of piano (1859) and composition (1860) at the Conservatoire was thwarted by the institution’s closure in 1860, but on its re-opening in 1867 he was reappointed as Royal Professor. Rheinberger was noted for his supreme musicianship and ability as an executant, and counted Humperdinck, Wolf-Ferrari and Furtwangler among his composition pupils. The Passacaglia is a concert transcription for piano of the last movement of the organ sonata, op 132, and follows the form of that movement closely with many demanding passages where the counterpoint of the original is rigorously preserved despite the pianistic difficulties that result. The effect is of a profoundly serious and effective work which deserves concert revival in our own time.