DUPRE: Works for Organ, Vol. 3
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Works for Organ Vol. 3
Descended from a family of organists and musicians, Marcel Dupre wasborn in Rouen in 1886. Taught by his father, he had his first appointment as anorganist at the age of twelve and in 1898 became a pupil of Alexandre Guilmant,his teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, with Vierne and Widor, studyingcomposition with the last and winning the Prix de Rome in 1914. Unfit formilitary service, he took the place of Vierne at Notre-Dame between 1916 and1922, during the latter's illness, and found time to study all Bach's music forthe organ, in 1920 playing in recital the complete organ works from memory,thus establishing his reputation. An international career followed, with manyrecitals throughout the world, particularly in the United States, where heexercised considerable influence. This activity he coupled with the position ofprofessor of organ at the Conservatoire from 1926, when he succeeded Eug?¿neGigout, and employment as Widor's successor as organist at the Paris church ofSt Sulpice from 1934. He served as director of the Conservatoire from 1954 to1956 and died in 1971. Equally gifted as a composer and as a performer, Duprewas a master of organ improvisation, in particular on the fine instrument at StSulpice, with an incredible command of contrapuntal extemporisation As acomposer his musical language, often polytonal and making use of colourfulclusters of notes in chords in close proximity, had a strong influence on hispupils Alain and Messiaen, continuing the great traditions of French organmusic.
Dupre dedicated his Concerto in E minor for organ, Opus 31, tohis wife. The work was written in 1928. The first movement opens in grandiosestyle, with a characteristic melodic figure stated with heavy chords from theorgan, woodwind and brass. This is extended by the orchestra to a passage inwhich the soloist offers more rapid notes, in chromatic sequence, over asustained pedal-point, continued over a restatement of the first subject bybrass and woodwind. A broader transition leads to a solo passage in E major,the second subject of the movement, with registration of 8-foot Flute and8-foot Bourdon, shifting key to allow the appearance of the same melody in thecellos, a semitone higher. There is an innovative development and arecapitulation that is greatly varied. This brings yet another transmutation ofthe second subject in the flute, accompanied by organ triplet figuration, with8- and 4- foot Flute. The original key is finally restored, as vestiges of theprincipal theme return in a coda. The organ opens the slow movement, using thecharacteristic sound of the Voix celeste over an initially sustained pedalchord in C major. The orchestra continues, the French horn leading to thereturn of the soloist in accompaniment of the horn solo. The mood changes withan Allegretto in which flute and clarinet propose the beginning of amelody, over a sustained C major chord from the organ, which then takes up themelody, extending it chromatically, before the two thematic elements areblended together both in a development and in the following recapitulation, asthe organ plays the first theme with the Trompette, while the French hornoffers the accompanying rhythm of the secondary theme. This is finally heardfrom French horn and celesta, while the organ sustains a C major chord. Thelast movement is introduced by the lower strings, joined, after a trumpetmotif, by the organ. The textures allow colourful chromatic chords in amovement in which the opening motifs retain their importance and there is areference to the second movement Allegretto. An extended cadenza, whichrecalls elements of the first movement, leads to a final conclusive statementof the chords of E major.
Dupre's Cort?¿ge et litanie, Opus 19, No. 2, was written as a workfor organ alone in 1921, as well as in a version for organ and orchestra. Withthe direction Tr?¿s modere, and in the key of E major, the work ismarkedly less chromatic than the Concerto, but once again, as in theslow movement of the latter work, combines two thematic elements, the openingprocessional, introduced by the orchestra and taken up by the organ, and theconstant repetitions of the litany, a characteristically liturgical musicalsource.
The Po?¿me hero?»que, Opus 33, for organ and brass, was written in1936, twenty years after the battle of Verdun, the heroism of which itcelebrates in response to a commission from the restored Cathedral of Verdunwith its Jacquot Organ. In a much more direct and approachable musical idiom,the piece, ending in triumph and victory to which the percussion add an elementof authenticity, may be considered as in the nature of a pi?¿ce d'occasion, apatriotic tribute to the heroism of 1916, under Petain.
Dupre's Symphony in G minor for organ and orchestra, Opus25, was written in 1928 and published with a dedication to the Englishconductor Sir Henry Wood, a friend over many years. It was first performed at aPromenade Concert in London on 9th September 1930. The first movement opens witha slow unison theme, ending in a chord of some ambiguity before the stringsbegin an Allegro with a rhythmic and melodic figure that continues to beimportant as the movement continues. Very French harmonies from the clarinetslead to a flute version of the opening theme, accompanied by the harp. It isfrom these two thematic elements that the movement grows, the two typicallyblended together as muted violins play the first theme, while the organ adds aderivative of the second. The music moves forward to a dynamic climax. There isa sudden silence, before massive sustained D flat major chords allow a versionof the first theme from the orchestra and the subsequent return of the otherelements that have made up the movement, ending in the dominant key of B major.
The Vivace that follows is dominated by the rhythm and melodic contourof the opening, insistently repeated. This material is introduced by flutes,then clarinets, oboes and bassoons in turn, leading to its statement bypiccolo, oboe and muted trumpet. The organ introduces a contrast of rhythm,melody and harmony, but it is the orchestra that eventually brings in a muchless chromatic theme, over the rhythm of the opening. Once again variouselements are brought together as the movement draws to a close. In the slowmovement a solo viola offers a melody, accompanied by the organ, which is latergiven the theme, leading to a passage marked Plus anime with a shift oftonality. It is, however, the first theme that predominates, as the musicunwinds, as so often in a style of masterly improvisation. The last movement isa fugue, but as this continues its polyphonic course, the rhythms of the secondmovement are recalled and finally the melody with which the symphony hadopened, now transformed to a triumphant G major.
Daniel Jay McKinley
The organist Daniel Jay McKinley was a pupil of Oswald Ragatz and RobertRayfield, as a student at the Indiana University School of Music. He hasappeared as a soloist with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic in works by AlexandreGuilmant, Francis Poulenc and Camille Saint-Sa?½us and has been choirmaster andorganist of First Christian Church, Columbus, Indiana, since 1978.
Columbus Indiana Philharmonic
Founded in 1987, the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic has won a reputationfor the performance of unusual repertoire and has been the recipient of anumber of awards, with national broadcasts throughout the United States ofAmerica. For its musicians, the orchestra has been able to draw on a pool ofgifted musicians, including talented professional students from the India