String Quartet No.3 in D Major, Op.67
Joseph Jongen's String Quartet No.3 was composed in 1921 and premiered in Brussels two years later to considerable acclaim. It is a big work, classic in conception, still showing the elegance of French impressionism. It would surely have entered the standard repertoire if atonalism and neo-classicism had not been all the rage at the time.
Joseph Jongen (1873-1953), on the strength of an amazing precocity for music, entered the Liege Conservatory (in Belgium) at the extraordinarily young age of seven where he spent the next sixteen years. The admission board was not disappointed. Jongen won a 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.
In the opening movement, Allegro non troppo, somewhat tense main theme is introduced by the first violin and the cello, with the former taking a highly charged and romantic melody further alone. The second theme is calmer. A bright and lively Scherzo comes next and is followed by a big slow movement, Andantino molto cantabile. A somber, but not sad, melody is presented in chordal fashion by all four voices. Carefully and over time, tension and drama are built up. The highly rhythmical first theme to the finale, Trés animé, is upbeat and full of optimism. However, the second section, opened by the cello, is highly dramatic and full of intensity.
This masterly work should be of interest to both professionals and amateurs. Unavailable now for many years, we are pleased to present it once again.