DUPRE: Works for Organ, Vol. 5
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Works for Organ, Vol.
Marcel Dupre was born on 3rd May, 1886 in Rouen. His father, Albert, wasan organist and his mother, Marie Alice Chauviere, was a cellist. In 1888 hebegan organ studies with Alexandre Guilmant and gave his first publicperformance in 1894. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire in 1902,receiving first prize for piano in 1905, organ and improvisation in 1907, andfugue in 1909. In 1906 he was appointed as Widor's assistant at St. Sulpice, inParis, and was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1914 for his cantata Psyche.
In 1920 there occurred an event without equal in the musical world ofthe time; the performance, from memory, in a series of ten recitals at theParis Conservatoire, of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Thisachievement brought Dupre world recognition, and led to his American debut in1921 and the first transcontinental tour of America in 1922. In 1926 he wasappointed Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire succeeding Eug?¿neGigout, and later served from 1954 to 1956 as Director of the Conservatoire. In1934 he succeeded his long-time friend and mentor, Charles-Marie Widor, asorganist of St. Sulpice, a post he held until the last day of his life. Afteralong and successful career as a teacher, performer, composer, and one of thegreatest improvisers who ever lived, Marcel Dupre died at his home in Meudon on30th May, 1971.
The Seventy-Nine Chorales for the Organ, Op. 28, were composed in1931 at the request of a friend. They were conceived as a pedagogical work,intended to prepare the student for the study of the chorale preludes of Bach.
Graded in difficulty, each piece is based on the same chorale used by Bach.
The Offrande ?á la Verge Op. 40, written in 1944 and 1945,is part of a series of nine etudes that Dupre wrote for his studentJeanne Demessieux. These etudes were conceived in the spirit of those of Chopin and Liszt, vehicles forthe perfection of a virtuoso technique. Each piece in this triptych isdedicated to one of his Premier Prix students at the Conservatoire whohad died in battle during World War II - Jehan Alain, Jean-Claude Touche, andJoseph Giles. The work represents three aspects of the Virgin Mary. VirgoMater portrays the Virgin in tender adoration of the divine infant. Amelody played in the pedals on a 4' flute murmurs under gentle harmonies. Theatmosphere is reserved and serene, evoking her maternal tenderness. Materdolorasa brings us to the foot of the Cross. Four elements are used; asombre rhythmic ostinato heard in the pedals, a chant-?¡like melody played onthe clarinet stop, a highly chromatic development section and a concludingrecitative, the voice of the grieving mother, played on the vox humana. InVirgo mediatrix the atmosphere is one of peace and serenity. A soaringmelody on the fl??te harmonique is heard over a serene, pulsatingaccompaniment. The compassion of the Queen of Heaven is infinite.
Miserere mei, Op. 45, written in 1948, is dedicated toArmand Dupuis, a Montreal friend whom Dupre had met on his visits to Canada.
The first performance was given by the composer in a recital in Montreal in1948. This elegaic tone poem is in four sections. The first presents afunereal-like theme in the pedals, with an onomatopoeic element in the handsplayed on the trumpet stop (mi-se-re-re me-i). A second theme is heardon the voix celeste. The third section is a development of the firsttheme, which rises to a climax in which the onomatopoeic miserere reappearson full organ chords. The second theme is used in a long diminuendo passage.
The fourth section is a coda, which evokes a tender remembrance of thecomposer's friend.
In 1929 Dupreundertook his fourth tour of America (he was to eventually do nine such tours).
On these tours he played organs whose unique tone-colours, very different fromthose of Cavaille-Coll, greatly intrigued him. The result was that in suchworks as the Sept Pi?¿ces Op. 27, written in 1931, there are manyregistration indications for stops found on American organs of the period. Eachof the pieces is dedicated to an English or American friend of the composer'swhom he had met on his tours.
Souvenir is inscribed to the memory of Lynnwood Farnam,an American organist who died in 1930 at a tragically young age. Farnam was agreat friend of Dupre's and published, with the composer's blessing, his owntranscription of the Cort?¿ge et Litanie Op. 19, which was meant foreasier performance on American organs. The theme is first heard on an 8' flutewith subtle, suave harmonies in the background.
The March isdedicated to the English organ-?¡builder Henry Willis, whose organs Dupreinvariably played on his visits to England. The vigorous theme, of"Elgarian" pomp and splendour, is first heard on full organ.
As Franck dedicatedhis Pastorale to the organ-builder Caville-Coll, so is Dupre's Pastoralealso dedicated to an organ-builder, the American Ernest M. Skinner.
Skinner's organs were noted for the variety and quality of their solo colours,many of which are called for in the registration indications of Op. 27. Thescene is in the country - a melancholy theme is heard on the clarinet stop,followed by a second, more animated, dance-like theme, heard on a flute stop.
In the middle section, an ostinato bass in the pedals accelerates into aFarandole, tinged with an Oriental hue, calling for the unusualregistration of oboe 8' and flute 2' played two octaves apart. The French hornstop, one of E.M. Skinner's specialities, signals the return of the secondtheme. The piece ends with the melancholy voice of the clarinet, and a wistfulremembrance of the country dance.
Carillon is inscribed to Frederick Mayer, who wasorganist of the Cadet Chapel at the West Point Military Institute in New York,where Dupre often played on his American tours. The relentless pounding rhythmsof several motifs using open fourths and fifths, effectively evoke the sound ofpealing bells.
Canon is dedicated to Alexander Russell, organist ofthe Wanamaker Store in New York, who was instrumental in arranging Dupre'sfirst visit to America. The "tongue-in-cheek" nature of the writingsuggests a slightly mischievous wit on the part of Russell.
Legende is inscribed to the English organist andcomposer J. Stuart Archer. The first theme is folk-like in character and playedon the oboe stop. The second theme is a gossamer arabesque, played onthe unda maris.
The Final isdedicated to Albert Riemenschneider, who for many years taught atBaldwin-Wallace College in Ohio, and brought several groups of students to Dupre'ssummer master-classes at Fontainebleau Riemenschneider was renowned as a Bachscholar, and Dupre ingeniously uses the B-A-C-H motive in the first, chromatictheme, by way of tribute to his friend. The second theme is a typicalmarch-like motif of the kind Dupre was fond of using in his improvised finales.
A quiet middle section introduces a third motive, which becomes important inthe concluding section.