Pascal Rophé

Jongen: Symphonie Concertante; Saint-Saëns: Symphonie No. 3

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Think of works for organ and orchestra and the first piece likely to spring to mind is Saint-Saëns' Third Symphony. This is understandable as this contribution serves as the starting point for most other compositions in this genre. Think a little harder and maybe you'll come up with the Poulenc concerto, maybe Pines of Rome, or even the Barber Toccata Festiva. But there are a host of other works out there, which this Cypres album so eloquently demonstrates. The album does, of course, include Saint-Saëns' Third Symphony, but also the magnificent Symphonie Concertante of Joseph Jongen. A student of Richard Strauss, Jongen was a native of Liege, where Saint-Saëns' symphony was used to inaugurate the organ in the city's Salle Philharmonique. Obviously influenced by Saint-Saëns, Jongen's composition puts much greater emphasis on the organ and almost pits the titanic instrument against the equally immense organ to great effect. The Orchestre Philharmonique de Liege, under the direction of Pascal Rophé, provides an intense, passionate backdrop throughout the work. This interpretation of the Saint-Saëns, while not offering anything truly different, is reliable, warm, and energetic. The overall sound quality of the CD is quite good, providing a clear balance between organ and orchestra. Listeners who enjoy the organ-orchestra genre will no doubt find this album a welcome addition to their collections.

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