Organ Spectaculars


If anything defined the Telarc sound early on in the digital age, it was its engineers' mastery of full-range orchestral recording. A case in point is Jongen: Symphonie Concertante & Franck: Fantaisie In A & Pastorale, a disc of three organ works, featuring organist Michael Murray and the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Edo de Waart. Recorded in 1984 on the Ruffatti organ, which had recently been installed in Davies Symphony Hall, the recording became an instant classic.

The major work on the program, Joseph Jongen's 35-minute Symphonie Concertante for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 81, was written in Belgium in 1926. An unabashedly romantic, tonal work that more than hints at the sometimes unsettling transition from the lush harmonies of the 19th century to the new, less complacent textures of the post World War I 20th, it begins with a room-shaking fugue. Some passages whisper, while others shimmer with an ungraspable air of mystery.

Prepare yourself for the final movement, with its pull-out-all-the-stops Toccata that may send your beloved puddy cat scrambling for cover. Dark, churning, and ominous, and complete with trumpet blasts and percussive thwacks, it's one of those organistic exclamations that are all an organ lover and a power-crazed organist could ask for.

Rounding out the program are two solo works by César Franck, the Fantasie in A major and Pastorale in E major, Op. 19. If the former is a little heavy on bombast, the latter provides a quite lovely landing after Jongen's knockout tour-de-force.

  • Album Small
    Jongen: Symphonie Concertante for Organ and ...

    Edo de Waart, San Francisco Symphony, ...

  • Album Small
    Saint-Saens: Maestoso from Symphony No. 3 in ...

    Michael Murray, from An Organ Blaster: ...

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