MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS



Maurice DuruflÉ (1902-1986)

Complete Organ Music
Fugue sur le thème du Carillon des heures de la Cathédrale de Soissons Op. 12 (1962) [3:30]
Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du 'Veni Creator' Op. 4 (1930) [20:09]
Prélude sur l'Introït de l'Epiphanie Op. 13 (1961) [2:15]
Scherzo Op. 2 (1924) [6:01]
Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain Op. 7 (1942) [12:35] (Prélude [6:38]; Fugue [5:57])
Méditation Op. posth. (1964) [3:43]
Hommage à Jean Gallon (1953) [1:54]
Suite Op. 5 (1933): Prélude, Sicilienne, Toccata [23:14]
Henry Fairs (organ)
rec. Church of Notre Dame d’Auteuil, Paris, 5-6 June 2006. DDD
NAXOS 8.557924


There is a handful of recordings of Duruflé’s complete organ works. The market is not inundated with them for the simple reason that much of the music is so fiendishly difficult. It takes a brave person to tackle these works, let alone record them. Henry Fairs has taken on the challenge and succeeded superbly, even though his playing doesn’t quite have the same flair and excitement as the John Scott/St. Paul’s recording. 

Without an enormous acoustic to contend with, the clarity of Duruflé’s complex, fastidious writing can be heard clearly in this recording thanks to the recording engineer’s microphone placement. It’s also testimony to Fairs’ articulate playing; this repertoire requires buckets of technique. Organs in echo-plagued buildings are not the easiest instruments to record well. Here the sound of this magnificent Cavaillé-Coll organ has been captured beautifully. That said, the ambience of a larger building in other recordings gives the listener the greater sense of gravitas that this music commands. 

The order in which to place these works on a recording poses a curious dilemma. There is really no obvious sequence apart from doing them chronologically. I think the order here works well. It’s a pity though that the mutation stop used at the opening of the first track is so hideously out of tune; it detracts from the enjoyment like a poke in the eye. 

In some of the quieter sections and in pauses, the action of the organ and stop-changes are very audible, as if the janitor has stumbled in to do a spot of cleaning; nothing terribly untoward though. On the contrary, it adds an element of reality, giving the performance a more spontaneous, ‘live’ feel which I applaud. 

The organ itself is a splendid instrument for such a recording. The lovely warm sonorities of the Cavaillé-Coll craftsmanship are showcased throughout, but really shine in the Prélude of Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le theme du ‘Veni Creator’, Op. 4 demonstrating the beautifully voiced flutes and soft reed stops, not to mention the luscious strings. The rousing finish to the variations is extremely exciting. 

What a fantastic piece the Scherzo is. Duruflé’s softer pieces really can be as gripping to the listener as the big crash-bang-wallop showpieces, particularly when played with the sort of effervescence and verve Fairs shows here. Alternating between slow interludes and rocket-speed acrobatic passages this little gem is a highlight of the disc. 

Duruflé was very fond of using triplet figures in order to create a sense of forward momentum - two of the Préludes and the Sicilienne for example - and this direction is achieved to perfection in the Prélude sur le nom d’Alain; such tremendous drive and excitement which for a movement that doesn’t exceed mezzo-piano indicates a genuine sense of energy. The fugue that follows is a little on the leisurely side and doesn’t quite have the same drive as the Prélude. Indeed a number of the tracks are significantly slower than other recordings but not damagingly so. 

The delightful Méditation - omitted from some recordings because it was unknown until its publication in 2002 - and the Hommage à Jean Gallon - curiously missing from other ‘complete organ works recordings - incorporate deliciously impossible twists of harmony that only Duruflé could get away with. Thus follows the mighty Suite, Op. 5 which in my opinion, is the daddy of the lot. Sandwiched between the brooding Prélude – the musical equivalent of a rumbling volcano waiting to erupt - and erupt it does once the Toccata gets cracking – and the fiery Toccata, the Sicilienne ambles rather than lilts along. Some of the solo tunes are unfortunately slightly obscured by the accompaniment. It is, however, played with extreme dexterity. Precise and accurate playing with such zest and vitality and a perfectly paced accelerando ensures that the Toccata is the icing on the cake of an excellent recording.

Max Kenworthy

see also Review by John France


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.