Dupre: De profundis; Motets, Opp. 9 & 53; Final from La France au Calvaire; Ave verum

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: De profundis; Motets, Opp. 9 & 53; Final from La France au Calvaire; Ave verum
PERFORMER: Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse; Jeremy Filsell (organ)
Organs were Marcel Dupré’s life, but early on he composed some ravishing choral music. Its personality is in its unpredictable simplicity: happy to inherit the language, he graced it with long, supple melodies and rhythmic fluency. The late works are more laconic but all of a piece, even the bizarre dialogue between France and Christ taken from an allegorical oratorio. Most recorded are the Four Motets, in which the choir floats over a modest organ accompaniment, done here with a nice choice of registration from limited options at the resonant Douai Abbey, near Reading. The high point is Dupré’s short, imitative and gorgeous Ave verum corpus, but what should have been is his 45-minute De profundis, contemporary with Lili Boulanger’s intense version but not overshadowed as it juggles solo and choral voices towards potentially thrilling peaks. Unfortunately the choir’s well-trained but bland manner damps it down. Beautiful duet and trio passages fall into wanness, and a more powerful and varied organ is badly needed. Reflective choral moments go best. It’s possible to imagine the music being performed with more fire and pace, and you’ll need to do that while you listen if the experience isn’t to be frustrating. Robert Maycock