Piano Quartet in E flat Major, Op.23
"Jongen's Piano Quartet dates from 1902. The work was premiered in Paris to great success and hailed as a masterpiece. It established his reputation as a composer of chamber music of the first rank. It shows the influence of Franck in that it is a cyclical work, but in all other respects, it is highly original. The vast opening movement, Large-Animé, begins with a lengthy introduction. Here the piano is made to sound like a harp as the strings very slowly build tension, increasing the tempo as they do so. This eventually leads to the presentation of the warm, romantic main theme in the cello. The second movement, Assez vite, takes the form of a scherzo. It is a lively dance begun by the piano. In the trio section, the second theme from the first movement unexpectedly reappears. In the slow movement, Pas trop lent, the viola gives the lead in to the main theme which is a transformation of the melody of the scherzo. Later, we hear the two themes of the first movement, but in varied form. When the main theme returns in the finale, Assez animé, Jongen demonstrates his mastery of technique by ingeniously altering it time and again, always maintaining our interest."--R.H.R. Silvertrust, Editor of The Chamber Music Journal.
Joseph Jongen (1873-1953) was truly born to be a musician. On the strength of an amazing precocity for music, he was admitted to the Liege Conservatory (in Belgium) where he spent the next sixteen years. It came as no surprise when he won the First Prize for Fugue in 1891, an honors diploma in piano the next year and another for organ in 1896. In 1897, he won the prestigious Grande Prix de Rome which allowed him to travel to Italy, Germany and France. He began composing at the age of 13 and immediately exhibited extraordinary talent. By the time he published his opus one, he already had dozens of works to his credit.
This is a marvelous work which deserves to be played in concert and given a chance on the stands of experienced amateurs everywhere. Out of print for the better part of a century, we are excited to reintroduce it.