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Marcel DUPRÉ
Évocation [27:06]
César FRANCK (1822-1890) Cantabile [7:01]
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Impromptu [3:11]; Gargouilles et chimères [8:01]
César FRANCK Prière [15:34]
Marcel DUPRÉ Scherzo en fa mineur [6:20]
Rolande Falcinelli (organ)
rec. live, Cathédrale de Belley, France, 1979, 1987. ADD

The death, last year, of Rolande Falcinelli removed from the organ world one of the most tangible remaining links with the teaching and philosophy of Marcel Dupré. Falcinelli was a favourite pupil of Dupré, and is herself perhaps now best remembered as a pedagogue - she was Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire for more than thirty 30 years - rather than as a performer in her own right. However, as this set of live recordings, and other recent releases - for example from the Dutch label Festivo - demonstrate, she was an extraordinary player of a sort which, even in France, is now a rarity.

Falcinelli visited the French town of Belley over seventeen successive summers in order to perform and teach. This was at the instigation of one of her students, Jean-Pierre Millioud. The grand orgue of the Cathedral there was originally built by Cavaillé-Coll in 1858, a modest instrument of some 26 stops. In 1936 it was enlarged and electrified, somewhat unfortunately, by Merklin and Kuhn, resulting in a three manual instrument of some 51 stops, including a positif with all manner of squeaks. The organ sounds well enough, but is not terribly distinguished. The interest here lies therefore in the artistry of the performer.

Not surprisingly the Dupré playing is perhaps the most impressive. She gives as controlled and supple a reading of Évocation as one could wish for. Her ‘encore’ performance of the early Scherzo in f minor is astoundingly assured despite the left-hand pyrotechnics. Such was her advocacy of Dupré’s art that Sylviane Falcinelli even writes in the programme notes that "nothing irritated her so much as to see fellow organists fall back on the music of Dupré’s first period, more immediately accessible, whereas the composer had evolved …..". Not much has changed, though I have to confess my own fervour for the later organ works of Dupré is strictly limited. Évocation, composed during World War II, is perhaps the finest ‘later’ composition.

The Franck playing equally demonstrates Dupré’s influence in its slow tempi and highly calculated phrasing - deeply admirable, if perhaps now rather dated. Surely Dupré’s way of playing the music represents more of a break in the tradition, than a continuation of it?

Hortus as usual provide us with a relevant and well presented release. Perhaps a shame that no composition or improvisation of Falcinelli is included – maybe this will feature in a future release?

Chris Bragg




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