DUPRE: Works for Organ, Vol. 4

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Marcel Dupre(1886-1971)

Works for Organ, Vol.


Marcel Dupre was born into a musical family in Rouen in 1886. His fatherwas an organist who had been a pupil of Guilmant, who became Dupre's teacherfrom the time the boy was eleven. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire atthe age of sixteen, and among his teachers was Widor, whose assistant he becameat the great church of St Sulpice in Paris four years later. Having won thecoveted Grand Prix de Rome in 1949, Dupre began his rise to fame with internationalrecital tours, in which he performed, in Paris and New York, Bach's completeorgan works from memory, a stunning feat which had been his ambition since hewas a child. His American debut concluded with an improvised four-movementorgan symphony, described at the time as a musical miracle.

In 1925 Dupre bought a house in the Parisian suburb of Meudon, where hehad a house organ installed which had belonged to Guilmant. Pupils from allover the world were soon to flock there. A year later he was appointedprofessor of organ at the Paris Conservatoire, where his pupils included bothJehan and Marie-Claire Alain, Jean Guillou, Jean Langlais and Oliver Messiaen.

In 1934 he succeeded Widor as organist of St Sulpice, where he remained for therest of his life, improvising, as had always been the custom in France, for theMass and Office, unfailingly matching the music to the occasion. He alsopublished a famous edition of Bach's organ works, as well as text-booksincluding the famous Cours d'Improvisation. In the succeeding yearsuntil his death in 1971 he received many honours and awards, and composed worksthat now appear on recital programmes and in recordings all over the world. Onthe very day of his death at home in Meudon, he had played two Masses at StSulpice that very morning.

This volume of Dupre's complete organ works includes his first and lastcompositions for the instrument, the Three Preludes and Fugues, Op. 7,

written in 1912, and Vitrail, Op. 65, of nearly sixty years later.

The former are among his best known works. Whilst their outer movements, inparticular, exhibit the dash and flair of a young virtuoso, they also possessome of the qualities of maturer works, a complete mastery of counterpoint,individual chord progressions, and a sensitive ear for the variety of soundsavailable from the organ.

The B major Prelude, the first, is typical of French organtoccatas, with rapid patterns for the hands accompanying a grandiose line forthe pedals. Dupre subtly varies the formula with sudden pianissimos and bycreating dialogue between the hands and feet. The succeeding Fugue isbased on a theme derived from the carillon figures of the Prelude. The Preludeand Fugue in F minor, the second, presents a total contrast to theother two, being quiet and subdued. Perhaps one can detect the shadow ofDebussy, still alive at this period. The theme of the Fugue is a variantof that of the Prelude; here, though, a ray of light shines through. Thethird, the Prelude in G minor, continues the quietness of itspredecessor, but in a completely different manner, as aerial as its companionwas profound. The melody is heard first in the pedals in single notes, butlater occurs in seven-note chords, three of which are played by the feet. The Fuguebrings return of the energy found in the E major pair, but this time themood is dark and ferocious; the main theme of the Prelude returns, andbecomes more and more overwhelming towards the vociferous conclusion.

Variations on Adeste Fideles, an Improvisation for Organ, reconstructedby Rollin Smith, is one of a fair number of improvisations that were recordedby musicians such as Dupre, and written down by others. Rollin Smith was afriend of Marcel Dupre from the time the composer first visited America in1921.

Vitrail, Op. 65 had an interesting genesis, beginning with an improvisation in1961 inspired by the stained-glass windows of St Patrick's Church in Rouen.

Some years later, in 1969, the composer seems to have taken up this idea again,and produced a work in six sections, which appears to have been inspired by theeast window, depicting the Resurrection. The agitated first section,representing the Fall, and depicted at the base of the window, is played on thefull organ, with a notable figure in the pedals; the next is slower, and has amelody in the upper range; the third is again on the full organ, containing anancient hymn, this and the subsequent return of the music of the openingrepresenting the Crucifixion. The following passage is effortlessly flowing, withflutes at high pitches; the penultimate section is steady in pace, very quiet,and brings back the hymn-tune heard earlier; and the final Allegro (theResurrection) works up dynamically to a triumphant chord of G major.

The Seventy-Nine Chorales for the Organ, Op. 28, were composed in 1931at the request of a friend. Each piece is merely a page in length, form an easyintroduction to the chorale melodies by Bach. The present selection reveals theexquisite beauty which flowed from the composer's pen at great speed during athree-week holiday in Biarritz.

In 1966, when he was eighty and writing and playing far less thanpreviously, Dupre was approached by Henry and Enid Woodward to compose a piecefor their Library of Organ Music. The result was Meditation, whichbears no opus number.

Paraphrase on Te Deum, Op. 43, was composed in 1946, reveals how farthe composer had travelled since the Preludes and Fugues which opened thisrecording. Dupre had developed a pulsating staccato style all his own, arising partlyfrom the old toccata style, and influenced, perhaps, by Prokofiev. It isclearly present here, accompanying the plainsong theme of the Te Deum. Theharmony is now much richer and darker hued; the grandeur contains a profundityand expressiveness developed in the course of a life dedicated to the art oforgan-playing and composition.

Janette Fishell

A graduate of Indiana University, with a subsequent doctorate fromNorthwestern University, the American organist Janette Fishell includes amongher principal teachers Wilma Jensen, Richard Enright, Clyde Holloway andWolfgang R??bsam. Named Young Organist of the Year in 1979 by Keyboard Arts,Inc., she is a recitalist and teacher of international standing. The author ofnumerous articles and a recent book on service playing, she is widelyrecognized as a leading authority on the organ music of Petr Eben. Her numerouscompact disc recordings include performances of the music of Eben and J.S.

Bach, as well as duet literature performed with Colin Andrews. She has beenfeatured in live radio broadcasts throughout the world, including a recitalperformance for the BBC, and is Distinguished Associate Professor of Music atEast Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, where she heads the OrganPerformance and Church Music degree programmes. She is the founder of the EastCarolina Religious Arts Festival and is Organizer and Choir Director of StPaul's Episcopal Church in Greenville.

Item number 8553919
Barcode 730099491921
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Organ
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Fishell, Janette
Fishell, Janette
Composers Dupre, Marcel
Dupre, Marcel
Disc: 1
Paraphrase on Te Deum, Op. 43
1 Prelude and Fugue in B major
2 Prelude and Fugue in F minor
3 Prelude and Fugue in G minor
4 Variations on 'Adeste Fideles'
5 Le Vitrail de St. Ouen, Op. 65
6 7. In my beloved God
7 8. Out of the Depths Have I Cried Unto Thee
8 9. O Christ Who Art the Light of the World
9 10. Christ the Lamb of God
10 11. Christ is Risen from the Dead
11 12. Christ Lay in the Bonds of Death
12 42. Jesus, My Joy
13 43. Jesus Christ, Our Saviour
14 44. Jesus Christ, Our Saviour
15 45. Jesus, My Trust
16 46. Come God, Creator, Holy Ghost
17 47. Come Holy Ghost, Lord God
18 Meditation
19 Paraphrase on Te Deum, Op. 43
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