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Jan Vriend (b. 1938) is a Dutch composer-pianist, and a former pupil of Ton de Leeuw and Xenakis. His hour-long Jets d’Orgue (1986) equates the organist and his assistants with ‘the crew of a big aeroplane: their combined expertise and effort serve to lift the seemingly clumsy machine off the ground into its element where it suddenly takes on the appearance of an agile space-ship’. The violently atonal language employed makes this a challenging listen but, for the adventurous, Vriend’s music is every bit as enthralling as the narrative would suggest. This is an exceptionally complex work, filled with volcanic energy, but Vriend’s use of the organ’s resources is disarmingly idiomatic and a dark humour occasionally peeks through (not least in the Beethoven quote in the final section). Jan Hage, one of the Netherlands’ best-kept secrets, provides a bravura performance of scintillating intensity on the famous St Bavo organ and the recorded sound is spectacular. Not one for your local recorded music society, perhaps, but essential listening nonetheless.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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