Variations on America - Innig

Variations on America - Innig

MDG Gold  MDG 917 1809

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental

Rossini / Buck: William Tell (overture)
Buck: The Star-Spangled Banner, Op. 23
Parker: Revery, Op. 66 No. 2
Ives: Variations on America
Wagner / Rogers: Feuerzauber
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

Rudolf Innig (organ)

American Rediscovery
Ives, Buck, Gershwin, Parker, Rogers: most American composers of the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century were talented virtuosos in their own right and made it their practice to write most highly effective works for their own instruments and for their own use. Today this chapter in music history has been almost entirely forgotten. On his latest SACD, however, the concert organist Rudolf Innig demonstrates that it merits rediscovery with his performance of a multicolored and suspenseful selection of original works and arrangements on the monumental Walcker/Aeolian-Skinner organ in Methuen, Massachusetts.

European Connection
Our attention quite naturally turns to the Old World: Dudley Buck studied in Leipzig, Dresden, and Paris, James H. Rogers with Guilmant and Widor in Paris, and Horatio Parker with Rheinberger in Munich. Charles Ives and George Gershwin, the two youngest composers, were able to free themselves from European hegemony and to create, each in his own way, something entirely new and genuinely American.

Independent Label
Ives composed his Variations on “America” at the age of seventeen, and it was a stroke of genius catapulting more than just American music far into the twentieth century. Ranging far beyond the European greats, he employed polyrhythm and bi-tonality, and the interpretative marking “as fast as the pedals can go” speaks for itself. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue blends the classical European symphony with the so very American jazz genre. Innig’s transcription is a magnificent homage to the great significance of the organ in the development of an independent American brand of music.

Organ Splendor
Rudolf Innig has already clearly displayed his fine interpretative feel for the special qualities of American organ music on his recording of organ compositions by Horatio Parker. The organ in the Methuen Memorial Music Hall is just the right instrument for such a program. Originally built by Walcker for the Boston Music Hall, the organ soon had to yield to the newly established Boston Symphony Orchestra and later was heard in a concert hall designed especially for it. The instrument’s magnificent eighty-six registers are presented in three-dimensional sound on this 2+2+2 recording – a lesson in music history that will make you eager to hear more!

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Reviews (1)

Review by John Broggio - June 18, 2013

On paper, this disc looked very enticing & imaginative with a carefully thought through progression of music transcribed or written by Americans.

Unfortunately the pedestrian performance of the Rossini transcription at no time sets the pulse racing in the great storm or galop sequences; the registration used is also rather unvarying and pales beside even the most mediocre orchestral outing. Next up the composer Dudley Buck provides variations that are not in the least inventive when compared to the most inventive of the genre despite the best efforts of Rudolf Innig. Horatio Parker's Revery is not the most captivating of pieces either but the Ives is another matter altogether. Ives' Variations on America (or, for Commonwealth residents, "God Save the King/Queen") shows just what imaginative ingredients are lacking in Bucks piece and Innig clearly enjoys himself. Wagner's Feuerzauber is sensitively paced and played by Inning but whether the registration is that of the transcriber or not, the tone colours are somewhat plain by comparison with what one knows is possible from an organ (let alone an orchestra). Similar concerns (combined with pacing issues that afflict the Rossini) marr the performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

The sound is not ideally clear either and does not help provide elucidation of the finer detail that is present in most of the programme. All in all, this can't be recommended to all but the most compulsive collector of the organ repertoire.

Copyright © 2013 John Broggio and


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