Reviews

GMCD 7220 – Choral Works by Marcel Dupré

Vasari Singers, Jeremy Backhouse – Conductor, Jeremy Filsell – organ

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By Julian Thomas

Celebrating the Vasari Singers’ 21st anniversary, this disc showcases both them and the choral works of Dupré excellently. Familiar repertoire such as the Quatre Motets (Op. 9) and the Ave Verum (Op. 34, no. 1) lies alongside the less well-known Final from his oratorio La France au Calvaire (Op. 49). Without doubt, the highlight is the De Profundis (Op. 18): the solo singing is sublime (particularly in Fiant aures tua) and the chorus is always beautifully controlled and exciting. Jeremy Filsell brings the best out of the organ at Douai Abbey, exploring all the necessary colours in Dupré’s rich organ accompaniments, whilst never being obtrusive. An informative booklet completes this superb disc – highly recommended.

Editor’s Choice – Gramophone October 2001

A disc that sheds a much-needed light on Dupré the choral composer. The Vasari Singers perform these luminous works exquisitely. Finely recorded, too. Also on Cover Disc

An Immaculate disc of spellbinding music wonderfully sung and superbly recorded

For all but a handful of devotees Marcel Dupré is inseparably associated with the organ. Dupré himself conceded this: ‘I do not think of myself as a composer. I have specialised in the organ, and I do not have the reputation that composers have.’ However, any thoughts that Dupré’s choral music might merely be organ music with words are immediately quashed by even the briefest snatch of the extended De profundis (particularly the trilling ‘Et ipse rediment Israel’ with the organ’s great pillars of sound underpinning the richly textured and rhythmically exhilarating chorus). Here is truly impressive choral music, every bit as masterful as Pizzetti’s unaccompanied setting of the same text. True, the organ does figure prominently, occasionally (as in the fourth of the Op 9 Motets) assuming a decidedly virtuoso role, but it is clearly always the servant of the choir, and for the most part it is the choral lines rather than the organ accompaniments which require the greatest virtuosity.

To that end it is hard to imagine a choral group more ideally suited to the task. We know for their already impressive discography that the Vasari Singers are one of the most accomplished small choral groups of our time and for this compelling, passionate, often deeply moving and always technically demanding music, every ounce (sorry, gramme) of their artistry, control and tonal variety is called into play.

What, I thinkg, distinguishes this disc above many other from the Vasari Singers – and which leads me to suggest it will make a strong contender for the next Gramophone Awards – is Guild’s wonderfully spacious yet crystal-clear recording and Jeremy Filsell’s immaculate organ support. He knows he has a supporting rather than a solo role here, and seems content to take a back seat. But there again, with 12 outstanding discs of Dupré’s complete organ music recently released, he can afford to rest on his laurels and allow others to bask in the limelight.
Marc Rochester