Tradition and Modernity
Since concertos for organ and orchestra are rare finds, it is no doubt Joseph Jongen's Symphonie concertante op. 81 that has kept his name alive beyond Belgium's borders. The typical case of a composer known for a single work, is that it? No, and cpo intends to do its part to correct this picture. For starters, the work catalogue of this composer born in Liège in 1873 carries quantitative weight with its more than four hundred entries. However, since his music is relatively little known, it often ends up being compared with the works of more famous fellow composers. Stylistically, Jongen was influenced initially by the musical approach of the Parisian Schola Cantorum and for a time also by impressionism, but he soon developed an independent style. The three works recorded on this CD concentrate on the organ, the orchestra, and interaction between the organ and the orchestra. Jongen has repeatedly been likened to his fellow Belgian César Franck, whose symphonic thought would not have been possible without the organs of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll produced from about 1850 in France with Paris as the center of his operations. These instruments have a full overall sound but trim characterful individual stops capable of conveying compositional transparency. Not without reason the holder of professorships in harmony and counterpoint, Jongen combined these two elements in his music, where they stand for modernity and tradition. The Sonata eroica concluding this CD is perhaps his most important solo organ work. This composition is so highly effective that even without the orchestra it might succeed in restoring the queen of instruments to its rightful place in the concert hall!