Nonet in A Major, Op.139
For Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon
Very few nonets have been written and that of Josef Rheinberger must be ranked among the very best. Today, Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901), who was born in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein is chiefly remembered as the most accomplished writer of fugues after Johann Sebastian Bach. At the age of 5, young Joseph was given piano and organ lessons from a local teacher. His talent was immediately discovered and was of such a substantial nature that with the help of a scholarship he was sent to the Royal Conservatory in Munich where he studied with Franz Lachner, one of Schubertís close friends and an important composer in his own right. Rheinberger, who remained in Munich for the rest of his life, was in great demand as an organist and choral master. He eventually became conductor of the important Munich Choral Society and served as voice coach at the Royal Opera where he got to know Wagner. He also taught at the Royal Conservatory where he held the position of Professor of Composition for nearly 40 years. During his life time Rheinberger was a much respected composer, generally ranked after Brahms and Wagner as the most important living German composer. Furthermore, he was also generally regarded as the leading teacher of composition. Among his many students were Humperdinck, Wolf-Ferrari, George Chadwick (whose quartets we are publishing), Robert Kahn and Wilhelm Furtwangler.
The opening bars to the first movement, Allegro, give out the main theme which when the winds enter a few bars later sounds very Beethovian. The beautiful second theme is first presented by the oboe is quite appealing. The second movement, Minuetto, Andantino, is an updated version of a rococo minuet. The trio section has attractive melodic material as well as a very clever pizzicato bridge passage. The third movement, Adagio molto, is clearly the center of gravity for the nonet. The attractive main theme is broad and leisurely. The compelling and gorgeous second theme has late Schubert as its antecedent. The Finale, Allegro, is full of lively melodies. The opening theme begins in a Mendelssohnian fashion with several ascending and descending sixteenth note runs. Several ceremonious horn calls interrupt the flow of the music before a fresh and somewhat sinister melody, given first to the bassoon and then the cello makes an appearance. But Rheinberger does not allow it to continue on for long and ushers in a joyous mood with a vibrant third theme.
The Nonet has either been out of print or prohibitively expensive. We have reprinted the first edition with a few improvements and are pleased to offer it at what we believe is a very modest price, hoping that this will help to stimulate interest in this fine work.