The Romantic Violin Concerto, Vol. 18: Jongen, Lazzari

Philippe Graffin / Martyn Brabbins / Royal Flemish Philharmonic

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The Romantic Violin Concerto, Vol. 18: Jongen, Lazzari Review

by James Manheim

Hyperion's series of lost concertos of the Romantic era, first for piano and now for violin, are to be welcomed; there's hardly an item among them that isn't worth at least one more hearing. Consider this release of works mostly by Belgian composer Joseph Jongen, who is remembered, if at all, for a few organ pieces. He was a hot property at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, winning a prize that took him to Italy, but using the trip to visit Berlin, Bayreuth, and Munich. He encountered the music of Strauss along the way, but there are also epic brass passages that unmistakably suggest that it was Wagner who made the deepest impression. To shoehorn that influence into the three-movement traditional concerto form, as Jongen does in the Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 17, written in 1900, is a nifty trick that nobody else accomplished in quite the same way. The two shorter works by Jongen on the program are both for violin and orchestra; the Fantasia in E major, Op. 12, composed in 1898, preceded his trip, and one can sense the sudden strides he made in Germany. Those strides are reflected in the Adagio symphonique in B minor, Op. 20, which could make a fine curtain raiser for a concerto program. The Rapsodie in E minor of Sylvio Lazzari, composed in 1922, is another Wagner-influenced piece, but is not on the same level, and listeners will find it challenging to remember much of it after hearing it. Soloist Philippe Graffin and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under the indefatigable Martyn Brabbins handle the sometimes considerable technical challenges of these works well. Recommended for those interested in Wagnerite ramifications.

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