Jongen: Impressions D'ardennes, Cello Concerto, Fantaisie

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There's a fascinating issue in the aesthetics of the romantic period: the degree to which composers "choke" when dealing with first-movement form in their concertos. Brahms, of course, made this challenge one of his particular strengths, and Dvorák's three concertos solve the problem in three very different but imaginative ways. But very few other composers emerge unscathed from their battle with sonata form, concerto-style, and Joseph Jongen doesn't quite manage it here. To his credit, though, he comes very close. His Cello Concerto opens with a wonderful orchestral build-up launching the entrance of the soloist, and only a certain lack of melodic distinction prevents the movement from being a total success. Clearer differentiations between the first and second subject groups would have provided greater formal definition, but either way the music is quite attractive.

Jongen has no problem at all once that first movement is out of the way. The slow movement is gorgeous, with a particularly delightful middle section in quicker tempo, while the finale (another place that many composers come to grief) really does provide an ideal combination of nobility and liveliness to what in the final analysis is a very serious statement. Soloist Marie Hallynck plays very well, as does the orchestra, and Roman Kofman conducts with seeming confidence. I only say "seeming" because it may be that the first movement would have made a better impression at a marginally swifter tempo, but with no comparisons ready to hand in this music it's impossible to be sure. In any event, the two shorter works are wholly captivating, something of a cross between d'Indy and Debussy, and full of color. Here Kofman deserves full credit for leading shapely, sensitive readings before an orchestra that sounds well at home in the music. Excellent sonics too. Very pretty indeed.

--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: CYP1634

  • UPC: 5412217016340

  • Label: Cypres Records

  • Composer: Joseph Jongen

  • Conductor: Roman Kofman

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Belgian National Orchestra

  • Performer: Marie Hallynck