Dupre: Symphonie-passion; Cortège et litanie; Symphony No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Dupre
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Symphonie-passion; Cortège et litanie; Symphony No. 2
PERFORMER: John Scott (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67047
St Paul’s Cathedral organist John Scott has always been a player of unassuming virtuosity, gifted with a stunning technique allied to a fastidious musicianship, honed by George Guest when Scott was organ scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge. If Vol. 1 (Hyperion CDA 66205) served up the hors d’oeuvres and dessert of Dupré’s output (the early Preludes and Fugues, the Esquisses and the Noël Variations), Vol. 2 contains the meat: the Symphonie-passion (a written-down version of an improvisation, based on four well-known liturgical tunes, given on the Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia in 1921), the Second Symphony of 1929, together with the Cortège et litanie and other works.

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Dupré’s own prodigious technique was allied to a fertile imagination and a genius for improvisation; his music transformed the idiom of his teachers Guilmant and Widor as much as Stravinsky’s did that of Rimsky-Korsakov. Original, brilliantly coloured and pungently – rather than Romantically – chromatic, it requires grand instruments to do it justice.

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The Willis/Mander instrument at St Paul’s perhaps has even more to offer than a big French Cavaillé-Coll organ; Scott chooses impeccably from the huge orchestral palette and achieves vivid spatial effects with the detached chorus and reed stops in the Dome and West sections. The engineers have achieved a miracle of clarity in spite of the nine-second reverberation. This is thrilling music, thrillingly played. Graeme Kay