Crépuscule au Lac Ogwen -
Hwyrddydd ger Llyn Ogwen -
Ogwen at Twilight
Born in Liège, composer, organist and academic, Joseph Jongen was a major figure in the musical life of Belgium during the first half of the twentieth century. Generally thought of as a post-Romantic Impressionist, Jongen composed prolifically throughout his life, from his first acknowledged composition in 1892 to his last in 1944.
From 1914-1918, along with 21,000 other refugees from the German invasion of Belgium, Jongen and his family found a home in England, first in London, and then from April 1916, in Bournemouth. Late September 1916 saw them spend a few days holiday in North Wales, near Bethesda, when Jongen visited the lake which was to inspire his piano piece Crépuscule au Lac Ogwen (op 52). The manuscript is dated 30 September 1916.
The style of Jongen's music in this period of exile has been described as 'painting with sonority', and writing in 1917, he described his own music as 'an idealistic or imaginative impression'. Similar techniques to those used by Debussy permeate his music at this time. Parallel chords, symmetrical figurations and octave doublings, and the use of his favourite G minor signature - used for the Aeolian mode rather than the true minor mode or key - imbue the Crépuscule au Lac Ogwen with a very personal colour.
Ancient Welsh folk tales link Lake Ogwen with King Arthur, and legend has it that this lake was the final resting place of his sword, Excalibur. As Arthur lay dying after the fateful battle of Camlan, he exhorted Sir Bedivere to return Excalibur to the lake from which it had come. After lying twice to Arthur, Belvidere eventually threw the magical sword far out into the lake, whereupon the hand of the Lady of the Lake appeared above the surface, grasping the sword and taking it with her to its final resting place, deep beneath the waters of Lake Ogwen. Bedivere is said to have been buried on nearby Mount Tryfan.
The cover image 'Lake Ogwen' by Rory Trappe was captured on 25 August 2011. Crépuscule au Lac Ogwen- Impression(op 52) (1916) is transcribed for the harp by Ann Griffiths.
Jongen's original harp compositions include the Danse Lente for flute and harp (op 56), the Concert à Cinq (op 72), premiered in 1928 by the Quintette de Paris with Pierre Jamet as harpist, the elegant Valse for solo harp (op 73), and the Deux Pièces en Trio (op 80). Later works for the harp include a Quintet for harp and strings (1932), and finally a Ballade for solo harp (1943) and a Concerto (1944).