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Marcel DUPRÉ (1886-1971)
Poème Héroïque op. 33 (1935) [8'15]
Angelus op. 34 No. 2 (1936) [4'29]
Vision op. 44 (1947) [17'20]
From Seventy-Nine Chorales op. 28 (1931): A mighty fortress is our God [0'46]; All men shall die [1'04]; Jesus my trust [0'38]; My soul doth magnify the Lord [1'00]; In Thee is Joy [0'50]; O how vain, O how fleeting [0'51]; In peace and joy I depart [0'55]; Awake! hear the call of watchmen [0'56]; We all believe in one God [1'54]
In Memoriam op. 61 (1965) [28'59]: Prelude [6'00]; Allegretto [3'39]; Meditation [5'25]; Quod Libet [5'27]; Ricercare [3'18]; Postlude [4'35]
Ben Van Oosten, organ
rec. Princeton University Chapel, June 2005. DDD
DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 316 1289-2 [68'57]

 

 

Ben Van Oosten's latest release in his ongoing Dupré cycle, finds him in Princeton, New Jersey. Van Oosten has again selected cleverly an organ associated with Dupré; in this instance Dupré was involved in the design of the 1928 100-stop Skinner. Later alterations by the Aeolian Skinner company were partially reversed in the restoration of 1990-91 by Manders of London. It sounds truly magnificent here, matching Dupré's later compositions aesthetically very well. It is worth remembering that although Dupré remained organist at St Sulpice until his death, and, unlike his colleague and former pupil Cochereau at Notre Dame, preserved the 1862 Cavaille-Coll as conceived by its builder, much of his time was spent touring in the US. His later compositions reflect the contemporary Anglo-American organ building style.

The Princeton organ is captured very well; the listener is always aware of the room as well as the instrument. Ben van Oosten is as stupendous, as  always. Phenomenal control, technique, never playing too fast, amazing feeling for line, astonishing use of the instrument - such elements always characterise his playing and this is no exception. Van Oosten is, quite simply, the greatest interpreter of the French symphonic school alive today.

Why then do I find it so hard to warm to this disc? The reason I'm afraid is the music. The too earliest works, the Poème Héroïque, and the Angelus (dating from the 1930s) are both attractive, the Poème Héroïque particularly dramatic, but the remainder, and especially the two larger works are inaccessible, in the case of Vision, very formless, and almost self-indulgent. In Memoriam op. 61, written in memory of his daughter, has never had the popularity that one would expect of the last large organ work of a figure as important as Dupré. The reason is quite simple, Dupré never finds the inspiration of the earlier Symphonie Passion, the op. 7 Preludes and Fugues, the concise Deuxième Symphonie, the op. 36 A-flat major Prelude and Fugue or the Variations sur un vieux Noël. Here one is much more aware of Dupré the improviser, notating ideas but somehow lacking the panache of the earlier creations. 

For collectors looking for a complete Dupré cycle, this is undoubtedly the one to have, Van Oosten's insightful playing and his choice of instruments putting it far ahead of the variable Naxos releases, and Jeremy Filsell's cycle on Guild, typically brilliant, but as so often with him, let down by use of a single organ of limited appeal.    

Chris Bragg 

 

 



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