American Record Guide
Donald Metz
American Record Guide-2399
The essence of the composer's "sound": heavy, rather thick in texture, clear separation of upper and lower voices, and the importance of the Pedal lines.

Recorded in 2006 in Our Lady's Cathedral, Antwerp, Van de Velde performs some of the larger works by Maleingreau on the beautiful 4-166 Schyven (1874/1891/1951). Peter Van de Velde is the fifth and current organist at that church, and he also performs weekly at Saint Michael's evening Mass.

Paul Eugene Maleingreau (1887-1956, he published his compositions under the name Paul de Maleingreau) was a Belgian who stud­ied at and then taught at Brussels's Royal Con­servatory of Music first as harmony instructor and in 1929 as organ teacher, as requested by the conservatory's head, Joseph Jongen. He remained in that capacity until 1953. Although he wrote a number of shorter pieces, most organists are familiar (dimly, I fear) with some or all of his three major works, the so-called "Serie Cathedrale": the Symphonie de Noel, Symphonie de la Passion, and Symphonie de VAgneau. Similar to his friend Tournemire, Maleingreau uses chant themes often, coupled with open fourths and fifths that convey his appreciate for Renaissance polyphony. Even a casual listening to this music conveys the essence of the composer's "sound": heavy, rather thick in texture, clear separation of upper and lower voices, and the importance of the Pedal lines. GD Cunningham hit on this succinctly by stating "his mood is one of rugged austerity" (The Musical Times, April 1939).

The Noel Symphony is in four movements, each with complete or partial quotes of chant melody. Easily the most listener-friendly is the third, 'Adoration mystique', a relaxed move­ment that relies on the quiet foundation stops along with the voix celeste.

The Suite is in the familiar Prelude, Choral, Pastorale, and Toccata format. The composer adopted a kind of cyclic form, with a main theme appearing in all four movements. While the I and II are rather dark and brooding, the Pastorale offers a refreshing bit of lilt and movement, if only for a sort time. The con­cluding Toccata is something else again. Opening with brilliant, descending roulades and rising scale passages, the main theme reappears in the Pedal. From there on, howev­er, the limited excitement drops even lower to conclude quietly—not exactly what the listener wanted.

The separate Toccata, marked Opus 73,4, was written in 1935. It has the earmarks of something more typical, with faster manual work and slower Pedal support and a blazing finish with challenging Pedal lines.

Another release of Maleingreau's works is available also from Aeolus (Vol. 1, SACD 10611 with Symphonie de la Passion, Symphonie de I'Agneau, and Suite Mariale) with Peter Van de Velde and the same instrument. If you only want an idea of Maleingreau's more theatrical efforts, try the 'Tumult in the Praetorium' from the Passion Symphony played by Ted Alan Worth (OrganArts Legacy Series, Vol.5—1965).

The organ is large but far less potent or col­orful than Cavaille-Coll instruments. Van de Velde certainly plays well, but I fear I can't get too excited about the writing.