Works by Joseph Jongen (1873-1953)
Jongen's Mass for choir, organ and brass edited by John Scott Whiteley and Tom Cunningham
"one of the most beautiful and accessible pieces of 20th century choral music I know", John W. Ehrlich, Music Director, Spectrum Singers, Cambridge, MA.
After lying forgotten for 40 years, Jongen's Mass Op. 130 has been performed widely in recent years throughout the world. Listen to the "Sanctus".
The vocal score, edited by John Scott Whiteley and Tom Cunningham, is published by Oxford University Press and won the Don Malin award in 1991. Scoring is for SATB choir (with short solo quartets), organ and brass (4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones and tuba) - the brass parts are available on hire. The composer also wrote an alternative scoring for organ without the brass for which the vocal score can be used. The work lasts about 35 minutes.
Organ Magazine said:
"Jongen's Mass is an engaging work … subtle both in the strains of variety within and the expressive power the music adds to the text."
Gramophone (January 2007) said:
"Jongen's Mass is a deeply impressive work. Moments of magisterial grandeur, captivating tints of impressionistic colour, masterly handling of the instrumental resources and beautifully paced choral writing elevate it to one of the best Mass settings from the mid-20th century."
The American Organist said:
"This new edition has a three-stave organ accompaniment which reflects Jongen's own arrangement and which will be completely effective with a substantial organ. The real glory, however, will come from a performance which includes brass and a large chorus. Let those with the required forces take note of this magnificent work."
Tom has conducted it himself in Brussels, Moscow and Budapest and can supply more information to anyone interested - see Contact. A live recording of one of his performances is available on CD Pavane ADW 7242 from amazon.co.uk. Listen to an excerpt ("Sanctus"). You can read an article he wrote for a magazine in 1991.
Two recent recordings are available:
On Regent REGCD241 with Lichfield Cathedral Choir and Chamber Choir, Alexander Mason and Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, conducted by Philip Scriven: you can find more information and buy the CD here or at amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
On Hyperion CDA67603 with The Choir of St John's College, Cambridge, Paul Provost and London City Brass, conducted by David Hill: you can find more information, listen to excerpts and buy the CD here or at amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
Songs by Jongen edited by Tom Cunningham
Deus Abraham. Written in 1909 for the composer's own wedding for medium-high voice, violin (or cello) and organ (or piano), it lasts 3-4 minutes and is in lyrical, romantic style. Can be sung by unison choir. Click to purchase at: amazon.co.uk.
Quid sum miser. Written in 1899 on the death of a young friend, for medium voice, violin and organ (or piano), it lasts about 6 minutes, is emotionally intense, with beautiful writing for all three participants which recalls Strauss and Brahms. Click to purchase at: amazon.co.uk.
Three sacred songs (O quam suavis est, Hostias et preces and Pie Jesu) written in 1894 to 1898 for high voice, organ or piano. They are also suitable for young voices, either solo or unison, and are somewhat like the Fauré miniatures. Click to purchase at: amazon.co.uk.
The Organists' Review (August 1999) said:
"One could say that his own harmonic language has yet to develop, but this would almost be to damn with faint praise the truly beautiful effect of these solo motets. Clearly a synthesis of the styles with which he had been brought up, they have a classic elegance, beauty and charm, and are full of interest. I recommend that anyone with a girls or boys choir after something a little different should buy a copy of each and consider performing them either liturgically or in concert."
All have original Latin texts and optional English texts.
A recording of Deus Abraham, Quid sum miser and Pie Jesu is available on Hyperion CDA67603 with members of The Choir of St John's College, Cambridge, Thomas Gould (violin) and Paul Provost (organ). The CD also contains the Mass Op. 130 by Jongen. You can find more information, listen to excerpts and buy the CD here or at amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.