Reviews

GMCD 7183 – Marcel Dupré – Organ Works Vol. 8

Jeremy Filsell – Organ

To the CD in our Shop


Gramophone February 2001

Filsell continues his impressive Dupré series with substantial 1940s compositions; there well played and the recorded sound is good

Evocation – selected comparison:

M Preston (11199) (NAXOS) 8 554211

Marcel Dupré’s three symphonic poems date from 1941-49. They are all major works, best listened to singly rather than in one sitting. Less virtuosic than much of Dupré’s output, they none the less stretch both player and listener. Psalm XVIII, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’, from 1949, was dedicated to the memory of Dupreé’s morher, Although the three movements lack an overt programme, the opening ‘sunrise’ idea sets the scene vividly. The central Adagio is overland, but the brilliant final Allegro features a doublee fugue based on the first movement’s main theme.

Vision (1947) is the only one of Dupré’s published pieces without a dedication, bearing instead a quotation from St. John’s Gospel -‘And the light shineth in darkness’. However, there are few glimmers of illumination during the work’s 18 minutes. Much of the music is shrouded in a cluttered, chromatic haze. It is with some relief that one turns to the earliest and best-known piece on the disc, Evocation. It was dedicated to the memory of Dupré’s father, Albert, who had died in 1940, and was intended to capture three aspects of his character: his anxiety, tenderness and pride. Although Filsell manages to lift the rnusic off the page you will find more poetry and panache in Mary Preston’s blistering account on Volume 7 of Naxos’s compiete cycle.

Filsell’s interpretations are reliable, fluent and faithful to Dupré’s registration markings. Well-balanced recorded sound and the relative dryness of the acoustic of St Boniface help one to grasp Dupré’s complex (and muddying) polyphonic textures.
Maicolm Riley


American Record Guide September October 00 Page 132/133

This is Volume 8, and it is devoted to seldom- heard works. Probably only Evocation will be familiar to organ buffs. These are three heavy- weight pieces; other instalments combine -pleasant short works with more substantial compositions.
Psalm XVIII was written in 1949 and published one year later. Dedicated to Dupre’s mother, the three part work opens with what he once suggested was a kind of description of the sun. Listeners can decide for themselves (I think ‘Resurrection’ does a better job). Thick textures abound, but a triumphant quality persists. More transparent lines characterise the musing middle movement, while the conclusion is once again ponderous, yet at the same time confident.
Vision is from 1947. While the literary quote is from St John, Filsell feels that Genesis I is the more apt connection. The quiet opening seems to lead nowhere. Not until past halfway through the piece does he pace pick up. Repeated chords in the upper register are balanced by a sinister reed Pedal theme. The theme is repeated with much fuller registration. The vision 1 get is more apocalyptic than anything else. The piece concludes slowly and extremely quietly.
The three-part Evocation of 1941 is, among other things, both a tribute to Dupre’s father (long-time organist at St Ouen) and a celebration of the restoration of the Cavaillä-Coll there. The murky opening movement gives way to a dream-like II (Adagio con tenerezza). Perhaps it’s true that Dupr6 actually wished to commemorate three facets of his father’s character: worry, tenderness, and pride. It is cer- tainly possible If you think of these as you listen. Loud, repeated notes launch the final movement in rondo form. This is the movement most people remember (it is sometimes played by itself). After a few episodes of different material, the rondo theme combines with the first movement theme in a boisterous and conclusive finish.
These are all heavy works, with few memorable melodies. Fiendishly difficult, they challenge the listener far more than, say, Variations on a Noel or the Preludes & Fugues, Op. 7. Filsell again demonstrates his absolute mastery of the technical problems. With a sensitive ear in addition, and coupled with an instru- ment that has proved its versatility through eight consecutive instalments, Filsell is in the home stretch of this significant enterprise. I have no doubt this series will be the backbone in any organ maven’s home collection. Filsll admits his enthusiasm for Dupré came after hearing Graham Steed play some Dupre pieces. You can hear them too, but you need to scour the older LP bins. Look for “Graham Steed at the organ

Classic CD – September 2000

We can by this stage ( Volume 8 ) in his Dupré pilgrimage take Jeremy Filsell’s tremendous virtuosity for granted. Try his magnificent marshalling of resources in the complex multi-layerings of the double-fugue finale of Psaume XVIII for yet another example.
What I hope is becoming gradually more evident is the sheer quality of Dupré’s music. He is not, perhaps, as consistently successful at his pupil Messiaen: the 17-minute “poème symphonique” Vision, for instance, strikes me as not so much enigmatic as largely aimless. But so much has real quality: the Psaume’s central Adagio, where flickering tlutes evoke a memorably spectral atmosphere, and the swirling, snorting syncopations of Evacation’s finale are but two examples of music which stretches far beyond the “second-effect” composing so often assumed to be the province of the organ by those with no special yen for the instrument. For those who have, this is another embarras de richesses.
Terry Blain
Performance

Sound                     5 Ear-Phones
Verdict                  Much outstanding music, brilliant performances; a must
Alternatives         Psaume/Évocation-Preston (Naxos)