Dupre: Symphonie-passion; Évocation

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Symphonie-passion; Évocation
PERFORMER: Ben van Oosten (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 316 0951-2
There is a special association between the music and the organ featured on this disc. The symphonic poem Évocation was specifically written for the Cavaillé-Coll organ of St Ouen, Rouen, and Dupré also refined his great Symphonie-passion there, having improvised a version of it in America. Three spot checks will reveal the mettle of any recording of the Symphonie-passion. The first is the very opening, with its depiction of a dark world awaiting the Saviour. Ben van Oosten perfectly captures the massivity of the moment, akin to Dupré’s own 1965 recording on the same instrument (sadly unavailable now); second are the bleak hammer strokes of the Crucifixion, here punched home by the brutal St Ouen chamade reeds; and third, the climax of the last movement, the ‘Resurrection’, where a toccata is fermented out of a plethora of plainsong fragments. In all of these moments the performer and the instrument are of one accord, and the parts coalesce into a very satisfying whole. I was just slightly disappointed by a dullness of the sound quality. There are several other fine recordings of the work available, notably John Scott playing at St Paul’s Cathedral, and David Briggs at St George’s Hall, Liverpool. Great performances they may be, but the organs cannot quite deliver the shattering impact needed for this music. Both instruments are a little too smooth, a little too polite, for the cosmic utterances of the Symphonie, even given Scott’s use of the gigantic west-end trumpets for the climaxes. For a truly symphonic portrayal of these two Dupré works, Ben van Oosten and Cavaillé-Coll cannot be bettered. William Whitehead