Reviews

GMCD 7159 – Marcel Dupré – Organ Works Vol. 3

Jeremy Filsell – Organ

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Cathedral Music

With the release of these volumes we are now almost halfway through Jeremy Filsell’s survey of Dupre’s organ works, and what an outstanding series this is turning out to be. Filsell’s technical ability is second to none, as he is able to tackle the most complex musical figurations with what appears to be relative ease. The musicality that shines through in these recordings provides a fresh approach, bringing new life to some of Dupre’s best known works. His use of rubato can seem a little excessive at times, as what on a first hearing sounds exciting and thrilling may jar on the listener as something approaching a performance mannerism. However, this is a small detail in comparison to the wealth of superb performances on these discs. The highlights are to numerous to mention, and each volume has a careful balance of the known and less well known. The recordings are wonderfully clear, and every single note can be heard.The rhythmic vitality is never lost, and the tempi are pushed to the limits without being too fast as to lose any detail. I cannot recommend these recordings highly enough. Quite superb!
Andrew Bryden – Andrew is assistant cathedral organist at Ripon Cathedral and head of music at the Cathedral Choir School

From Gramophone August 1999 – page 65

Hats off to Guild for having the courage to produce with such lavish care the complete organ works of Marcel Dupré (1886-1971), spread over 12 volumes. They are in direct competition with a Naxos cycle which features several players recorded at various venues. Here, however, we have one player’s view recorded on an instrument of great tonal beauty.
Despite his comparative youth (he was born in 1964) Jeremy Filsell has lived with Dupré’s music for almost a quarter of a century, inspired to investigate this neglected and underrated repertory by the LP recordings made by Graham Steed in the early 1970s for RCA. Filsell recorded an all- Dupré disc in Ely Cathedral in 1991 (Gamut, 5/92 nla) which drew critical acclaim, not just for his interpretations but also for his technique.
The 12 volumes were recorded over a two-week period in September 1998 on the back of a complete Dupré cycle which Filsell presented in nine weekly concerts at St Peter’s, Eaton Square, London, earlier that year a challenge of Herculean proportions. The choice of an American organ is apt since Dupré was a regular transatlantic recitalist; between 1922 and 1925 he spent almost six months of each year performing in the USA. The Moller organ in Sarasota was built in 1979 and tonally revised and revoiced in 1997. Although designed with a specifically French bias, the sound world we enter on these discs is some atmospheric distance removed from that of St Sulpice in Paris where Dupré worked from 1906 until the day of his death on Whit Sunday in 1971.However.this somewhat sanitised ambience does help the listener to follow Dupré’s rigorous counterpoint and sense of musical argument.
Volumes 1 and 3 give us the complete 24 Inventions, both sets of Three Preludes and Fugues Op. 7, composed in 1912 and considered to be the first major work of Dupré’s maturity, and Op. 36 of 26 years later which on paper, and at first hearing, are intellectually forbidding. Vol. 2 includes the Variations sur un Noël, his most celebrated and accessible work (based on Noël Nouvelet) and, most moving of all- the last major work of his old age In Memoriam, Op. 61 , composed over a two-year period following the death from cancer of his only child, Marguerite, at the age of 54.
These are honest and reliable interpretations displaying a virtuosic technique. There are a few slips and some of the speeds are wide of the metronomic markings. Filsell also has a tendency to hang on slightly to the ends of phrases, thereby distorting the rhythmic undercurrent.
These caveats apart, each disc contains a balanced and satisfying mixture of the poetic, the sturdy, the spiritual and the extrovert. The recordings are spacious though well focused. I should have liked more weight to the pedal sound. The booklet and presentation are first-rate. This cycle sets high artistic standards and I look forward to future volumes. Strongly recommended.
Malcolm Riley