Album Review

Posted: Saturday 11th May 2002
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Dupré: Choral Works – Organists’ Review

Two of these compositions were sparked off by events of the two World Wars. Unlike Lili Boulanger’s contemporaneous setting of Psalm 130 in the French language, Marcel Dupré’s De Profundis of 1917 uses the Latin text, supplemented by the responsory from the Requiem Mass. Although Dupré scored his 45-minute work for orchestra and organ, he authorised the solo organ accompaniment which Jeremy Filsell plays here with verve. The scale of the design is justified by the range of expressive contrasts, from the funeral tread of the opening verse to the elevated close in transfigured light. The second verse features a solo trio, the fourth a tenor solo and the sixth a duet for soprano and bass. The musical language is late-Romantic with modal elements. The choir displays sensitivity and steel; Helen Neeves, Matthew Beale and Colin Campbell are stylish soloists.

Completed in 1953, the oratorio La France au Calvaire employs the French tongue for the most part. An allegorical prologue is followed by tone portraits of six French saints and a final dialogue between France (soprano), her people (double chorus) and Christ on the Cross (bass). Because of the subject matter this work was never calculated to gain a wide circulation, but the finale is proof of the mature Dupré’s dramatic power.

The motets show a similar diversity of technique. Filsell is joined by second organist Ian Curror in two of the Quatre Motets of 1917. The sopranos shine darkly in Ave Maria. Ave verum corpus dates from 1936, the devoutly Marian Deux Motets from 1958. For Dupré admirers, essential listening.

Peter Palmer
Organists’ Review