Duruflé: Organ Works (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Durufle
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Organ Works (complete)
PERFORMER: Friedhelm Flamme (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 777 042-2

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The legendary compositional fastidiousness of Maurice Duruflé means that the complete works for organ can be encompassed on one CD. The reward for the listener is a distilled corpus of some of the richest, most innovative and satisfying music ever written for the instrument. Joining Olivier Latry (BNL), Hans Fagius (BIS), John Scott (Hyperion), Stefan Schmidt (Aeolus) and a number of others as Duruflé anthologist is Friedhelm Flamme, church music director of the Göttingen diocese in Germany. He performs the cycle on the three-manual, 50-stop organ of the Stiftskirche at Bad Gandersheim – built in 2000 by the Strasbourg firm of Mühleisen. Its predominantly French specification offers an appropriate platform for the music. Flamme’s disc stands out in several respects: it is fractionally more complete than the other collections by virtue of including the Chant Donné – Hommage à Jean Gallon and the Méditation; Flamme’s fluid playing belies the fact that this is an instrument with mechanical action, which can be unforgiving; it is also the first complete Duruflé to appear on SACD – if surround-sound is your priority, you will not be disappointed. And another first: the comprehensive booklet notes are graced by a large photograph of the organist’s registration assistant, Iris Duwensee. Without doubt her skills, allied to Flamme’s evident feel for the music – and the organ itself – allow the music to unfold smoothly in wholly idiomatic tone-colours. But in this competitive area of the repertoire, Latry’s recording, made in Duruflé’s own Paris church of St Étienne du Mont, must remain a front-runner; my own benchmark recording is Schmidt’s in St Peter’s, Düsseldorf, beating Friedhelm Flamme for that extra burst of rhythmic élan and squeeze of melodic poetry.

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Graeme Kay