Notes and Editorial Reviews
Joseph Jongen was the most important musical personality of his generation in Belgium. Pianist, organist, conductor and teacher, he was first and foremost a most distinguished composer who wrote in almost every genre. His large and varied output (over 130 opus numbers) includes a number of works for organ of which Chant de mai and Sonata Eroica are probably best-known to organists. However his masterpiece is the wonderful Symphonie Concertante Op. 81 for organ and orchestra completed in 1926. It is also his most recorded work, though it is still rarely heard in concerts. (I for one have attended two live performances in thirty years!) The piece is written on a large scale, in four substantial movements playing for over half an hour. It
opens with an impressive Allegro that begins fugally and later develops a tightly knit symphonic argument. The second movement Divertimento is a delightful Scherzo which at times has folk-like rhythms. The heart of the symphony is the beautiful slow movement Molto lento, a long meditation of great depth and of remarkable harmonic subtlety. The symphony's last movement is a brilliantly scored, energetic Toccata providing for a rousing conclusion. Eugene Ysaye attended the first performance in Brussels in February 1928 and a few days later he wrote Jongen a characteristically friendly and perceptive long letter... He too believed that Jongen had put all his best musical thoughts and his heart into this magnificent masterpiece. For many years the best recorded performance available was that by Virgil Fox with the Orchestre de l'Opera de Paris conducted by Georges Prêtre (originally issued by CAPITAL RECORDS, then re-issued as ANGEL S-26894 and, later still, re-issued in CD format [EMI CDM 5 65075 2]).
-- Hubert Culot, MusicWeb International
The Jongen is undated but was transferred from a 4-track tape. Since the organist is in constant motion one needs an executant of stature, for which reason Virgil Fox is on hand. The strings of the Orchestre du Théâtre National de l’Opéra are lean and attentive. Prêtre encourages lithe articulation in the Divertimento and is attentive as to dynamics and sculpting in the slow movement, where the quietly reflective music is well-paced. The florid, cinematic finale, a Toccata of rip-roaring vitality, is cast in the best Franco-Belgian style - no wonder fellow Belgian Eugène Ysaÿe was so complimentary about Jongen. The end is positively thrilling in every way.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphonie Concertante for organ and orchestra, Op. 81 by Joseph Jongen
Virgil Fox (Organ)
Paris National Opera Orchestra
Date of Recording: 07/1967
Venue: Les Invalides, Paris
Length: 35 Minutes 37 Secs.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C minor by Arthur De Greef
Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden (Piano)
Liège Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1914; Brussels, Belgium
Date of Recording: 09/1977
Venue: Conservatoire de Liège, Belgium
Length: 31 Minutes 14 Secs.
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