The Symphony Orchestra of Liechtenstein marks the 300th anniversary of their country in a unique fashion. They released a recording by one of Liechtenstein’s most prominent composers, Josef Rheinberger.
In the late 1800s, Rheinberger was an important composer, teacher, and organist. Today he’s primarily known for his organ works, which remain in the repertoire.
His legacy as a teacher is impressive, too. Among his pupils were William Berwald, Engelbert Humperdinck, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, and Wilhelm Furtwangler. George Whitefield Chadwick, Fredrick Converse, and Horatio Parker — some of the first American to achieve international fame — also studied with Rheinberger.
As a composer, Rheinberger was influenced by his German contemporaries: Schumann, Brahms, and Mendelssohn. Like Mendelssohn, he had a deep appreciation of J.S. Bach’s music.
Those influences — with a dash of Schubert — can be heard in this symphony. Rheinberger lays out his material across a four-movement structure in a logical fashion (like Brahms). His melodies flow seamlessly from one to the other (like Schubert).
The symphony was premiered in 1867 and enjoyed several performances across Northern Europe and the United States.
The Symphony Orchestra of Liechtenstein delivers an exciting performance. Director Florian Krumpock seems to have a clear vision of where the symphony’s going, and how it’s getting there.
If you have a chance, get the SACD version of this recording (or the highest resolution digital version you can download). Rheinberger uses a standard symphony orchestra. But some of the subtle instrumental blendings he does can get lost in low-resolution playback.
I’ll concede that Rheinberger’s symphony isn’t quite on the level of Brahms’. But it’s still a beautifully-crafted work that deserves to be heard.
Josef Rheinberger: Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 10 “Wallenstein”
Sinfoieorchestrer Lichtenstein, Florian Krumpock, conductor
Ars Production 382844