Rinck - Organ Works
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Johann HeinrichChristian Rinck (1770-1846)
Johann Heinrich Christian Rinck was born on 18th February 1770 atElgersburg in Thuringia. He had his first musical training from his father, anorganist and teacher, studying also with a number of other teachers inThuringia and soon outstripping them. At the age of sixteen he went to Erfurtas a pupil of Johann Christian Kittel, himself one of Johann Sebastian Bach'smost important pupils, who valued his talent so highly that he soon made himhis deputy as organist at the Predigerkirche. By 1789 Rinck had reached theposition of organist at the principal church in Giessen and shortly after beingappointed director of music at Giessen University, he moved, in 1805, to thebetter paid position of cantor and organist at the principal church inDarmstadt, where he remained until his death on 7th August 1846. There hedisplayed his various abilities, as organist, teacher, an expert on the organand as a composer. In spite of the limited number of his extremely successfulconcert tours in Germany, he won an important international reputation, earningmany honours, among others appointment as Court Organist in Darmstadt and anhonorary doctorate from the University of Giessen. His reputation as "theGerman Bach", notably in France and England, rested mainly on his manypublished, widely distributed and commercially successful compositions,including works not only for the organ but also vocal and chamber music. Hisorgan pupils included Friedrich Hesse and he influenced a whole generation oforganists in Germany and subsequently in France. His collection of musicmanuscripts, which includes several important sources for the music of Bach,received from his teacher Kittel, still retains its value for musicologists.
Although born twenty years after the death of Johann Sebastian Bach,Rinck was, nevertheless, strongly influenced by the latter's style, while stillaccepting the revolutionary developments in the music of his time asrepresented by his exact contemporary Beethoven. The diversity of his own stylemay be partly explained by these divergent stylistic influences and partly by acommercial instinct for the market. Rinck's popularity among the organists ofhis time is seen in the presence of his compositions in almost all of thenumerous collections of organ music for liturgical purposes. In general hisorgan works adhere to a contrapuntal church style, with smaller formsprevailing. Especially in the shorter preludes, however, original, rhythmicallyinteresting motifs and occasional surprising harmonic changes are to be found.
In his large collection Organ Compositions Ancient and Modern (London,c.1880), William T. Best published an Introduction and Fugue in E flatmajor, under the more popular title Concertst??ck. The inspiredthematic material of the prelude, written in the spirit of the German galanterStil, and the almost Handelian flow of the double fugue, which has aserious first subject In stile antico and a more florid second subject,may explain why the piece must have been particularly attractive to Englishaudiences.
Out of Rinck's numerous sets of variations, the present release offersthree, each of a very different kind, owing largely to the source of theirsubjects, taken, as usual with Rinck, from other composers. In the SixVariations sur un Air de Corelli/ik Zag Caecillia kommen, Op. 56,originally published by Schott, we find the types of variation most frequentlyused by Rinck. These are the tranquil homophonic setting of the simplified melodywith early Romantic harmonization, imitative treatment of the elegantly figuredand articulated subject, a Larghetto with heavy, dotted rhythms, anenergetic homophonic setting with a virtuoso pedal line dominated by dottedrhythms, a supple Cantabile in the major mode with rococo ornamentationof the soprano solo line and a multipartite finale interspersed with a fewreflective or capriccio passages marked piano.
The short Trio in B minor, published by Th. Cieplik in AusgewahlteTrios ('Beuthen'), displays not only intensive imitative writing andadvanced contrapuntal skills, but also a fine sense of musical lyricism.
With his chorale variations Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele ('Rejoicegreatly, my soul') Rinck takes up the tradition of the chorale partita. Herethere is a bicinium, the cantus firmus alternating between twovoices, a three-part setting with the Cantus firmus in the alto and a perpetuummobile bass, two imitative settings with the cantus firmus in thetenor and in the bass. In contrast to Baroque practice Rinck includes severalvariations which might be used as accompaniment for congregational singing,with small interludes between phrases of the hymn, a practice typical of histime.
Rinck's Pracktische Orgel-Schule, Op. 55, published in the yearsfrom 1819 to 1821 in six separate parts, was widely distributed throughout theworld, particularly in its second edition by Wilhelm Volckmar which was alsoprinted in Boston and can still be found today in the organ-lofts of the UnitedStates and South America. It mainly contains examples of the seriouscontrapuntal style already regarded as a little old-fashioned at the time, butstill highly esteemed by the conservative Rinck, who was himself deeply rootedin the tradition of Bach. As if to prove that he could also write in a moremodern style, as advocated by his friend, the influential organ reformer AbtVogler, he writes in the preface to the fifth volume as follows: \The fluteconcerto, the variations and several other pieces are not meant to be usedduring religious services, but serve to show how much can be achieved on theorgan. My work would not be complete, if I had omitted these works in freestyle."
The Flute Concerto is in fact close to Viennese classical style, withvariations more akin to the early Romantic. At first sight the concerto lookslike an organ or piano reduction of an orchestral composition, somethingcertainly intended by Rinck, who does not hesitate to use techniques normallyconsidered unsuitable for the organ, such as octave tremoli. The florid,virtuoso and sometimes amusing passages for the flute make a pleasant contrastto the generally short and energetic statements from the "orchestra".
Rinck understands well how to adapt the characteristic idiom of the flute tothe organ. The very accessible Rondo, with its perpetuum mobile type ofbroken chords, in particular, has made this the most popular of Rinck's organcompositions.
In the variations on Heil dir im Siegerkranz ('God save theKing') compact homophonic settings, with the increasing activity ofaccompanying voices, are to be played with "strong stops",alternating with versions of the material that use a more delicate registrationand texture. Among the latter a four-part setting, with the melody in the alto,played on the pedals, and a fast bass-line, with two atmospheric variations inthe minor mode, deserve special attention. After a transitional passage, madeup of several shorter sections built over fragments of the melody, the finaleenters, with quasi-fugal elements that soon dissolve into virtuoso passages.
After two short meditative piano sections the work ends abruptly with twoorchestral chords.
Translation ?® 1997 Keith Anderson