Music for Viola and Piano by Kœchlin & Jongen, played by outstanding musicians Roger Benedict, Timothy Young and guest artist Ben Jacks.
Jongen and Kœchlin are two names that are not at the top of anyone’s list of most recognised composers of the twentieth century. In fact most music lovers will not have even heard their names let alone their music. But they are two individual and distinctive musical voices who followed their own path and composed some wonderful music.
The viola music of Jongen has an unashamed focus on the melodic line, with the melodic line driving the drama (of his pieces) forward, projecting it headlong through episodes of rapture and exquisite beauty, often interspersed with passages of great bravura display and virtuosity.
The harmonic colour of his music shows a love of the French impressionist palette but is always applied with his own brush.
As a passionate Frenchman sympathetic to communist ideas Charles Kœchlin felt deeply the responsibility that he write music that was within the reach of everyman, at the same time offering pieces that were of uncompromised artistic merit and emotional truth.
Kœchlin’s mighty viola sonata bleeds with the tragedy of war-time horror. It is unexpectedly gripping for a work written for the seemingly polite ensemble of viola and piano. His skill with textures, harmony and colour creates a piece of enormous emotional impact, from its initial numb desolation through cries of anguish then the desperate morse-code tap-tapping of its moto-perpetuo. Listening to this piece is a truly remarkable emotional journey.
The wistful beauty of his petites pieces for Horn, Viola and Piano, show that the playful mood of pieces written in his youth can coexist with the exquisitely painful yearning for a time lost.