Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Jongen: Piano Music
Listen to Samples
Extremely musical piano playing and lovely little known work
David DeLucia | East Haddam, Ct. United States | 05/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The only previous exposure I've had to Jongen was through a rather
bombastic Symphonie-Concertante for organ and orchestra and some
pleasant, if rather insipid music for flute and piano. His piano
music however, is altogether of a higher quality and well worth a
This CD is not "new" , just new to me and was recorded in the early 90's. 72 minutes of music is
offered and one wishes it would never end. I also had never heard of
Gary Stegall, but he emerges as one of the most colorful, sensitive
pianists I've ever experienced, like Gieseking with more solid finger
The opening piece, Clair de Lune, is not at all like Debussy's work
of the same name. The first 4 minutes sound a bit like Ravel's Le
Gibet with a luscious melody in the treble. After that point a
sensuous climax takes one's breath away in its pure beauty. Even my
father, who suffers from Alzheimers', liked this piece and he
responds to very little these days.
Stegall follows Clair de Lune with Soleil A Midi, an ebullient, happy
work which sounds like a killer to play. It is somewhat like
Debussy's Danse on steroids, and has few moments of repose. Stegall
plays the spots off of this virtuosic work, and his performance is
unlikely to be bettered anytime soon.
Next is Sarabande Triste. Here, we are in the same sound world of
the Ravel Pavane, but with even more poignancy. The first time I
heard this, I had to pull my car over to the side of the road so I
could more fully concentrate on it. The opening is simple and suave,
yet with such great feeling you just can't stop listening to it. The
next six minutes are miraculous, I will leave you to experience the
piece yourself -prepare to be shattered!
Angoisse is a passionate, disturbing piece, like angry waters
preceeding a flood. Impressionistic music at its best, and somewhat
like Griffes The Fountain of the Acqua Paola, but even more over the
top if that's possible. This piece would make a fabulous encore, and
I'm surprised it is rarely if ever programmed.
I really responded to the following Giovenzza. It has a mysterious
other worldly quality a bit like Debussy's Engulfed Cathedral. Yet,
the harmonies and progressions are Jongen's own, somewhat like parts
of Ravel Pavane but different. Throughout this Cd there are echoes of
Faure, Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc, and yet Jongen manages to remain
slightly off the beaten path!
Papillions Noirs probably owes the most to Debussy, being a bit like
Gardens in The Rain. It is a bit too notey for my taste and emerges
as the weakest piece on the CD.
The following Nostalgique is like a perfumed whorehouse, with its
whiffs of decadent harmony and melody. I see the influence of De
Severac here, or perhaps Ravel's Le Gibet again with "prettier"
harmonies. The ending is truly lovely.
Appassionata is the shortest work on the CD, and is more lively than
passionate. The work is mini toccata of sorts, and Stegall certainly
gets all the drama out of it!
Poir Danser is a pleasant Satie like piece that sounds like the
technically easiest piece to play on this CD. Again, this would make
a nice opening to an all French recital if pianists could be
encouraged to program it!
Air de Fetes is a real tour de fource and Stegall does not
disappoint. This work has a distinct Spanish influence and sounds
like a combination of Albeniz, Debussy, and De Falla, if you can
imagine that! The second theme is absolutely beautiful, and Jongen's
treatment of it gives me goosebumps.
The major work on this Cd is Suite in the form of a Sonata, Opus 60.
featuring 4 movements, the entire affair is nearly 30 minutes. But
what a half hour! The opening Sonatine is 8 minutes of fascinating
pianism, somewhat like the first movement of Ravel's work of the same
name but with more variety, from the lowest of lows to the highest of
highs. The second theme reminds me of Chopin's 3rd Scherzo of all
things, with the delicately falling trickling treble. With the
second movement, La Neige Sur La, we are in the sound world of
Debussy's Footprints in the Snow. Yet Jongen's treatment of the
snowy musical landscape is more extended, with some fascinating side
trips along the way. The third movement, Menuet Danse is probably
the weakest, hardly rising above merely pleasant. However, the last
section, Rondeau is extraordinary, and sounds amazingly difficult to
play. Here, the main theme is bouncy and irresistable...and what
Jongen does to it tickles the senses as well as the ivories. This
entire Suite could almost be the second half of a recital, and is
well worth the exploration of an advanced very musical pianist.
Gary Stegall is born to play this kind of music, and I can't think of
anything to offer that could make his playing any better. In terms
of tone production, balancing melody/accompaniment, voicing chords,
he pretty much is beyond criticism and picky old me rarely says that!!
I will try to put some of the shorter pieces in the files with the
caveat that the longer pieces are even better.
A MUST for anyone that responds to French piano music, I play this in
my car constantly.
Dave De Lucia
A little gem.
Jacques H. | Lausanne, Switzerland | 04/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently ordered this CD, trusting both the laudatory comments already made about it and a brief extract (from the recorded pieces) I had found on the Internet. And the least I can say is that I don't regret my purchase. This CD is a little gem, not to be missed."