About this Recording
8.553918 - DUPRE: Works for Organ, Vol. 2

Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Works for Organ Vol. 2

Marcel Dupré had a long and busy career as a recitalist, composer, teacher, writer and editor and he exerted enormous influence on all aspects of the organist's art in the early part of this century. Dupré's place in the evolution of twentieth century organ music has yet to be fully understood or appreciated and there are those who would seek to detract from the enormous impact his playing and teaching had on countless students who studied with him. It cannot be ignored that the list of his Premier Prix students at the Paris Conservatoire contains nearly every important twentieth-century French organist and composer, including Marie-Claire Alain, Jean Langlais, Jean Guillou, Jeanne Demessieux, and Olivier Messiaën. Several of his organ works have become recognised as standard repertoire for the instrument, and Dupré was unique in that, like Chopin and Liszt in the nineteenth century, he wrote with the innate understanding of the possibilities of the organ as 'seen' through the hands and feet of a virtuoso performer. The technical and colouristic innovations present in his organ music are perhaps comparable to those Chopin and Liszt for the piano who in their time, like Dupré, exerted enormous influence as performers, composers, and teachers. If nothing else, the consummate artistry of Dupré the improviser, will certainly assure him of an exalted place in the history of the King of Instruments.

The Fifteen Versets originated as improvisations, made during the Vesper service for the Feast of the Assumption at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on 15th August, 1919. Dupré was interim organist at Notre-Dame from 1916 until 1923, while Louis Vierne was in Switzerland undergoing eye treatments. The work was dedicated to Claude Johnson, co-founder of Rolls Royce, who was present at that service and commissioned Dupré to reconstruct the improvisations and bring them into print. Johnson was later responsible for Dupré's first visit to England in 1920, where Op. 18 was heard at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The collection is divided into three books, Books I and II being based upon the original Gregorian chants, while the Magnificat versets of Book III use original themes.

Lamento was composed in 1926 in memory of the son of Mr and Mrs Arthur M. Henderson of Glasgow, Scotland. Henderson had been a pupil of Widor and a long time friend of Dupré. It is the first in what was to be a long series of commemorative works written in memory of family and friends. Two themes are heard, the first a sombre lament played on the oboe stop, the second a gentle theme of consolation. After a build-up, the second theme reappears played on the vox humana.

The Seventy-Nine Chorales were conceived as a pedagogical work, intended to prepare the student for the study of the chorale preludes of Bach. They are graded in difficulty, and each piece is based upon the same chorale used by Bach.

Élévation is Dupré's first published organ work (1912) and is dedicated to Louis Vierne. It is typical of the numerous meditative pieces of that title which where were meant to be played during the most solemn portion of the Mass.

The Triptyque dates from 1956-57, and was first performed at the dedicatory recital of the Henry Edsel Ford Auditorium organ in Detroit, Michigan. As the title suggests, the work pays homage to certain antique forms. The Chaconne is a series of nineteen variations on a four-bar theme first heard in the pedals. The Musette features a folk-like tune heard over a murmuring accompaniment played on a 4' flute in the pedals. The Dithyrambe (in the manuscript entitled Humoresque), is a movement of frenzied abandon in which two themes are subjected to spirited development.

Robert Delcamp

Descended from a family of organists and musicians, Marcel Dupré was born in Rouen in 1886. Taught by his father, he had his first appointment as an organist at the age of twelve and in 1898 became a pupil of Alexandre Guilmant, his teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, with Vierne and Widor, studying composition with the last and winning the Prix de Rome in 1914. Unfit for military service, he substituted for Vierne at Notre-Dame between 1916 and 1922, and found time to study all Bach's music for the organ, in 1920 playing in recital the complete organ works, thus establishing his reputation. An international career followed, with recitals throughout the world. This he coupled with the position of professor of organ at the Conservatoire from 1926 and employment as Widor's successor as organist at the Paris church of St Sulpice. He served as director of the Conservatoire from 1954 to 1956 and died in 1971. Equally gifted as a composer and as a performer, Dupré was a master of organ improvisation, in particular on the fine instrument at St Sulpice.

Keith Anderson

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