Jongen, Copland

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COMPOSERS: Copland,Jongen
LABELS: Solstice
WORKS: Symphonie concertante, Op. 81
PERFORMER: Pierre Pincemaille (organ); Perpignan Languedoc-Roussillon Orchestra/Daniel Tosi
Joseph Jongen’s Symphonie concertante, composed in 1926, is a work that falls into the late-Romantic French organ-loft tradition. The opening movement is easy and fluent in a way that recalls Saint-Saëns, though sometimes with pastoral overtones. There’s a scherzo that begins as something light but grows in substance, and a long, Debussy-influenced, slow third movement is placed before the perhaps rather predictable brilliant, cacophonous toccata of a finale. Throughout, there’s a virtuoso role for the soloist. Copland’s Organ Symphony, written in 1924, when the 23-year-old composer was still firmly under the spell of Nadia Boulanger, is a far more probing, thoughtful work, with a complex Scherzo – jagged, clockwork-like, violent and in its central section delicate – set between the ruminative, spare opening movement and a spacious, processional finale. One can almost hear Boulanger urging Copland to make each note, each moment count. Both readings, spearheaded by the soloist Pierre Pincemaille, have plenty of power, though the clanky action of the organ of St Jean Baptiste, Perpignan, is frequently too evident, and under Daniel Tosi the Perpignan Languedoc-Roussillon Orchestra’s nicely expressive string-playing is sometimes compromised by some distinctly dodgy, town-band standard brass. Stephen Pettitt