WORKS: In memoriam, Op. 61; Variations sur Noël, Op. 20
PERFORMER: Jeremy Filsell (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: GMCD 7157
The musical personality of organist-composer Marcel Dupré (1886-1971) was nothing if not wide-ranging. These two discs, the first in a series of twelve, show at a glance the territory he explored, from the virtuoso concert show-piece to the introspective musings with which he adorned the liturgy at St Sulpice in Paris. Dupré was apprenticed to Widor at this church by the age of twenty, and remained there until his death in 1971. Never really the modernist, he worked in a rich vein of post-Romantic harmony which provided early inspiration for his pupil Olivier Messiaen. For this reason alone, a complete Dupré cycle is long overdue.
In fact two complete cycles are on their way- Naxos are over half way through their set, using a variety of American organs and organists, while Filsell is heroically taking on the complete oeuvre himself. This British player is most at home in the dazzling and puckish sides of Dupré. The Finale from the popular ‘Variations sur un Noël’ exudes vitality and bite, as do the charming Inventions Op50. If the broad F minor Prelude is somewhat perfunctory, Filsell makes up for it in the exquisite Ricercare from the late work, ‘In Memoriam’. The disc is worth it for this evocation of Dupré’s rarified art alone. William Whitehead