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CD Review

Marcel Dupré

Organ Works, Volume 7

  • Poème héroïque, Op. 33
  • Angélus, Op. 34 #2
  • Vision, Op. 44
  • Seventy Nine Chorales Op. 28 (9 pieces)
  • In Memoriam, Op. 61
Ben van Oosten, organ
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG3161289-2 69m DDD
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During the last few years, Dupré's organ music has generated a huge amount of interest, and rightly so. This MD&G cycle has now reached its seventh instalment, and the pieces that make up this programme are some of the most eloquent compositions that Dupré ever penned. The composer's long life saw him ride many a musical change, but up until his death in 1971, aged 85, he remained faithful to the classical and romantic styles which were so dear to his heart.

The major part of his oeuvre (65 opus numbers) is, as expected, focussed on the organ which is treated both as a solo instrument and in combination with other instruments as well, orchestra included. His voice is personal and original, but his debt to the baroque masters as well as to the great French masters who came before him is very evident. The music on this album is a varied mixture indeed, ranging from the heroic and triumphant (Op. 33) to the mysterious and reflective (Op. 34 #2).

The 70 Chorales were intended for teaching purposes, and although simple in form, they include all the basic elements of his art. Written in three to five parts, they employ a vast range of compositional treatment in the Bachian mould. In 'Vision', we find Dupré at his most philosophical, experimenting with unusual colours and instrumental innovations that befits his unique vision of the modern organ.

The composer's last big organ work was the six-movement suite, 'In Memoriam' Op. 61 written in 1965 at the age of 79. Dupré composed this piece in memory of his only child, Marguerite who died in October 1963 aged 54. As is expected, the work is full of nostalgia and melancholy and in its, Dupré poured all his grief.

The Dutch organist, Ben van Oosten plays magnificently on the Princeton University Chapel Organ in New Jersey. Installed in 1928, Dupré was involved in the organ's design and in September 1929, he gave his first concert tour precisely on this organ. Restored in 1990-91, this extraordinary instrument has a glorious tonal palette, and in van Oosten's hands, it is the ideal medium to bring out all the drama, nobility and serene grandeur of Dupré's music. Excellent sound and notes (by van Oosten himself) complete a memorable seventh volume in this valuable series.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech