Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens (1823-1881)
Sonate Nr. 1 "Pontificale" in D minor
Sonate Nr. 2 "O Filii" in E minor
Sonate Nr. 3 "Pascale" in A minor
Prélude (Grave) in E flat major
Fanfare (Allegro non troppo) in D major
Cantabile (Allegretto) in B minor
Prière (Moderato cantabile) in E major
Finale (Allegro) in D major
The Belgian organist Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens (1823-81) was key player (all puns intended) in the 19th century French Organ School, whose students included Alexandre Guilmant and Charles-Marie Widor. His performances, teachings, and writings laid the foundation for French symphonic organ style that prevailed in the late 1800s. Stylistically speaking, Lemmens' well-crafted compositions chart calm, conservative waters à la Mendelssohn, without rocking any boats, so to speak. The E-flat Prelude, for instance, is a veritable Song without Words. Of Lemmens' three organ sonatas, No. 2 in E minor contains the strongest writing within its three contrasting movements.
Conversely, if you find the First Sonata's chest-beating "Marche Pontificale" banal, you'll cringe at its profoundly insipid fugue. The 1874 Schyen/Van Beyer organ is ideally suited to these works, and van Oosten's full-throttle climaxes resonate without a trace of bombast. MDG's engineering goes for overall effect rather than close-up detail, capturing the organ as one might perceive its sound from the pews in the church of Notre-Dame de Laeken in Belgium.
Reviews"The organ works of Lemmens are very interesting for everyone who loves French romantic organ music and who wants to learn more about the Bach-classical-romantic connection. Ben van Oosten is a great virtuoso; the organ is wonderful; the recording is superb (a real MD&G-tradition)." Yascha van den Berg