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The programme offered is well balanced with a solo organ piece, a large-scale work for organ and orchestra and another for orchestra alone.

The organ used here is a monster of a four manual found in the Philharmonic Hall in Luxembourg. I happen to have heard that instrument recently and am not surprised that the Luxembourg instrument was preferred by CPO. The piece starts with a unison passage recalling Bach. The piece certainly embraces ones attention. It ends with a rather sober fugue but that turns out to be something vividly theatrical to bring the piece to a rousing conclusion.

The fact that Jongen and his music are so little known may be reflected in his rather dull titles. For example, choosing to call an orchestral work Passacaglie et Gigue, written in , may indicate a somewhat neo-classical academic exercise. In the event it does not begin with a set of Bach-style chords setting the harmonic basis but starts instead with a melody quietly in triple time in the bass. This finds itself transformed by the winds and strings in succession.

Later contrapuntal elements begin to emerge alongside the more chorale-like textures. This builds into something exciting and impassioned. Here the organ and a vast orchestra are ideally combined. Curiously Symphonie Concertante was written for an organ positioned in the Rodman Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia.

It was Wanamaker who commissioned the work. He died only two years after its first performance. There are four movements. As implied above this makes for quite a serious opening with the organ drifting in and out of the soundscape.

It acts as a skittish scherzo with the organ leading the way but in which there are also some reflective sections. This is the longest of the four and leads off with a Debussian flute but then its nemesis follows.

It begins in an almost Hollywood style and ends up bringing the work to a powerful conclusion. The performances are very effective if rather earnest. They are well recorded and a suitable balance is struck which neither highlights the organ nor hides it. So, a worthy tribute all-round to a much neglected figure.

Gary Higginson.


Sonata eroica, Op.94 (Jongen, Joseph)

Zoeken naar: Symphony no. Beyond purely subjective claims my favorite this, the prettiest that , even those with a pretense of objectivity are purely speculative. Disillusioned over the abuses of power of the French Revolution, Schiller himself soon came to disavow his Ode. Yet Beethoven clung to its idealism and may have tried to set it to music in the s and again in With offers from both London and Berlin for what would be his first public concert in a decade, Beethoven relented to remain in his native Vienna only after the local elite begged for the honor. Although the performance itself must have been little better than a tentative sight-reading, the house was sold out.


Symphony no. 9 ‘Choral’


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