J. JONGEN: THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS
John Scott Whiteley at the organs of York Minster, Notre Dame de Laeken and St. Jude, Detroit
Priory PRCD 731
This splendid 2-CD set shows what a versatile composer Jongen was. He could deliver the pomp and swagger of Guilmant and Widor, the lyrical charm of Schumann, Grieg and Faure, the contrapuntal ingenuity of Franck and the impressionistic harmonies and textures of Debussy and Vierne. Alongside the famous works - Chant de Mai, Toccata, Sonata Eroica - are pieces which thoroughly deserve a place in any recitalist's repertoire, in particular the Prelude et Fugue op. 121, Papillons noir op. 69 no. 11, the Improvisation-Caprice, op. 37 no. 2 and the Scherzetto op. 108 no. 1. There are also several pieces which would make suitably atmospheric liturgical pieces.
I can't imagine John Scott Whiteley's wonderful and imaginative performances ever being bettered and one must also salute his expertise as an arranger of the piano works Papillons noirs and Sarabande dans le Style Ancien. He also provides detailed and scholarly programme notes which include a complete chronological list of the organ works. It was an interesting and rewarding idea to use 3 contrasting organs, although the late 20th-century Detroit organ isn't quite as charismatic as the 2 other older instruments. The 1912 Merklin organ in Notre Dame de Laeken, Brussels is especially suited to Jongen's Gallic idiom, and all 3 instruments are superbly recorded. Unquestionably one of the finest 2-CD sets of organ music you'll ever possess.