WORKS: Symphonie-passion, Op. 23; Variations sur un vieux noel, Op. 20; Three Preludes and Fugues, Op. 38
PERFORMER: Stefan Engels (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553920
In Vol. 2 of his Dupré series, Ben van Oosten scales some of the technical peaks, including the three early Preludes and Fugues. It is good, too, to hear some of the less well-known pieces alongside the warhorses. The Paraphrase sur le Te Deum, in particular, deserves to stand much higher in the ratings than it does, and the late Entrée, canzona, sortie give an interesting perspective on the autumn of Dupré’s life, Straussian in its nostalgia.
It is difficult to be passionate about this disc, in praise or damnation. To the extent that Dupré played his own music coolly and without excessive rubato, van Oosten is certainly being authentic. The net effect of his performances is less a demonstrable commitment to the music than an extremely efficient reading. Jeremy Filsell, in his complete Dupré cycle, gives a more red-blooded performance and perhaps takes us deeper into the music as a result. The venerable organ of the Madeleine is something of a Frankenstein’s monster, being a hybrid of several aesthetics. Over several rebuilds, neo-classical shriekery has been grafted on to early Cavaillé-Coll warmth, and the join occasionally shows. Nevertheless, and the odd filthy howl apart, there is a fire to the sound which irradiates van Oosten’s playing. William Whitehead