DUPRE: Works for Organ, Vol. 12 (Robert Delcamp/ Wolfgang Rubsam) (Naxos: 8.554209)
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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 the church ofSt Sulpice, in Paris, and was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1914 for his cantata Psyche.
In 1920 occurred an event without equal in the musical world of the time;the performance, from memory, in a series of ten recitals at the ParisConservatoire, 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 the Church of St Sulpice in Paris, a post he held until the lastday of his life. After along and successful career as a teacher, performer,composer, and one of the greatest improvisers who ever lived, Marcel Dupre diedquietly at his home in Meudon on 30th May, 1971.
The Suite Bretonne, Op. 21, dates from 1923, and is dedicated toMademoiselle Hilda Gelis-Didot. She was a close friend of the Dupre family, andwas related to the Firmin-Didot family, who have been responsible for manyyears for the publications of the Institute of France. The suite consists ofthree, short programmatic pieces inspired by a visit Dupre made to Brittany. Berceuseis a cradle-song, which describes the gentle rocking by a mother of herbaby's cradle. It uses a folk-?¡like melody which, when it returns, appears incanon at the octave between the soprano and a 4' flute in the pedals. Fileuse(Spinning) portrays a Breton woman at the spinning-wheel. The whirling ofthe wheel is portrayed through the use of a running semi quaver (sixteenthnote) ostinato in the left-hand, played on the Voix Celeste stop, whichcontinues throughout the piece. Les Cloches de Perros-Guirec (The Bellsof Perros-Guirec), a small coastal town near Brest in Brittany, depicts aprocession of Breton peasants, jauntily on their way to church on a Sundaymorning.
In Memoriam, Op. 61, is the largest of the composer's last works. It dates from1965, and is dedicated to the memory of his daughter Marguerite Tollet, neeDupre, who was born in 1909 and died on 26th October, 1963, after a longillness. It is the last in a series of commemorative works which Dupre composedthroughout his career in memory of friends and relatives. In the case of hisdaughter the grief was intense, and Norbert Dufourcq described the work as"...a votive stone offered in memory of his child." She was an accomplishedpianist, and accompanied him on several tours of the United States, performingworks for piano and organ with her father. The six pieces are in two volumes,framed by an elegiac Prelude and a brilliant Postlude. In theintervening movements the composer remembers aspects of his daughter's life,from her childhood to her death. Allegretto is perhaps a game of"hide-and-seek", and the Meditation a "bedtimestory". The Quod Libet is a series of eight variations on atwelve-note theme, which the composer subjects to a number of slightly humorousturns of phrase. The Ricercare is a sublime piece of six-partcounterpoint. Its restrained beauty represents the type of piece that Duprewould often improvise during communion at St Sulpice.
The Suite, Op. 39, was published in 1945 and is dedicatedto Marguerite Pascouau-Laborde, Dupre's mother-in-law. Its four movements arepart of a series of twelve etudes, which Dupre wrote for his prize pupil JeanneDemessieux. These pieces were meant as vehicles for the perfection of avirtuoso technique, much in the manner of the transcendental studies Lisztwrote for the piano. Of the twelve studies, nine survive, which include,together with Op. 39, Offrande ?á la Vierge, Op. 40, (Naxos 8.554026),and Trois Esquisses, Op. 41. Allegro agitato uses chromaticthirds, sixths, and scales to achieve a rapid shimmer of sound. In her diary,Demessieux wrote of this remarkable movement "... one has to hear the noiseof millions of agitated molecules in a forest to be able to assimilate the independenceof the writing..." Cantabile consists of rich, chromaticharmony in six parts, including a canon between the upper part and the rightfoot. The Scherzando is a playful, burbling movement, requiringdexterity of both hands and feet as octaves, thirds and sixths are continuallypresent. The Final begins as a gruff, marcato movement of an ominousnature. This gradually gives way to a sense of joie-de-vivre, which grows inintensity to a conclusion of triumph, splendour and brilliance.
Trois E,quisses Op. 41, ('Three Sketches') concludes the series ofstudies Dupre wrote for Jeanne Demessieux. The C major Sketch, excluded by thecomposer from publication in 1946, was brought into print in 1975 under theeditorial supervision of the composer's student, Rolande Falcinelli. It is abrooding, turbulent work that rises to an intense climax and ends quietly. TheE minor and B flat minor Sketches were published as Deux Esquissess Op.
41, in 1946, and first performed by the composer on 11th February, 1946, at theSalle Pleyel. They are dedicated to Madame Stephanie Borneman, wife of thepublisher of much of Dupre's music. The first is a scherzo which featuresrepeated notes played on a Bourdon and Tierce. The second is a diabolicaltoccata for full organ, which uses octaves continually in both the hands andfeet.
Robert Delcamp was awarded the Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in OrganPerformance at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University ofCincinnati and took his doctorate at Northwestern University. His teachersincluded Wayne Fisher, Richard Enright, and Louis Robilliard. Currently he isProfessor of Music, Department Chair, and University Organist and Choirmasterat The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where, in addition to histeaching duties, he directs an active music programme in the school's AllSaint's Chapel (Episcopal). As a solo recitalist, Robert Delcamp hasspecialised in the music of Marcel Dupre, presenting lecture-?¡recitals,workshops and solo recitals for American Guild of Organists Chapters throughoutthe United States. His earlier contributions to the present series in the NaxosOrgan Encyclopedia can be heard on Naxos 8.553918 and Naxos 8.554026.