Maurice Duruflé – Sacred Choral & Organ Works Vol.2
Recorded at the Eglise Saint Antoine des Qinze-Vingts in June & October 1994.
About these works:
In 1928, Maurice Duruflé entered Paul Dukas’ composition class at the Paris Conservatoire. He seems to have learned there the proud, ingrown habit of self-criticism, and that one’s music must be very good indeed to be made public. Dukas was notorious for destroying ambitious works — almost consigned to the flames, the superbly glowing La Péri survives to give a measure of the music that perished; this limited his catalog to a scant 12 published works, albeit they included an opera, a symphony, a piano sonata, and variation set, and the phenomenally popular L’Apprenti sorcier which are among the towering works of French music.
Duruflé, on the other hand, was primarily an organist and church musician, and his sphere of activity was far more limited. But within that sphere he achieved a unique utterance in a handful of suavely radiant works which loom as more enduring than bronze. Because both men composed urbane requiems rife with tidings of comfort and repose, Duruflé has been taken as a sort of poor cousin of Fauré. But where the latter employed modal coloring and a suggestion of chant, Duruflé absorbed Gregorian melody as a second nature, and its long-breathed, supple phrasing informs an otherwise smartly up-to-date idiom with an enchanting aura of timelessness.
This is nowhere truer than in the Messe “Cum jubilo,” especially in light of the blithely serene Kyrie. But in the Gloria — playing a bit over five minutes, the longest of the mass’ five succinct sections — the chant-inspired central baritone solo (“Qui tollis”) is flanked by jubilant affirmations which could almost be by the Poulenc of Les Mamelles de Tiresias, and quite disarming in their juxtaposition. The Sanctus opens on a glowing mystical note, rises to a solemn paean of praise (“Hosanna in excelsis”), and retreats as if in awe. A baritone solo intones the very brief Benedictus with comforting assurance, to questioning interjections from the organ. And in the Agnus Dei, the music seems to hover, abashed before the central mystery, yet lingering.
As he did for his requiem, Duruflé left three scorings for the “Cum jubilo” Mass. There are versions for large orchestra, small orchestra, and organ — all of which retain the original’s unusual vocal forces: a chorus of baritones in unison, with baritone solo. Dedicated to Marie-Madeleine Duruflé, the work received its premiere at the Salle Pleyel, Paris on December 18, 1966, with Camille Maurane taking the solo, the Stéphane Caillat Choir, and the Lamoureux Orchestra led by Jean-Baptiste Marie.
The “Prelude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du “Veni Creator”, Op. 4 highlights his long love for Gregorian chant, a love he shared with his teacher Charles Tounemire. As in all of his organ works, this piece makes extreme technical demands on the performer. The prelude, marked Allegro, ma non troppo consists of running triplets derived from the Veni creator melody. The orchestral flavor of this movement is derived from changes in manual and tone color. This leads into a brief Lento, quasi recitative which links the prelude to the Adagio. The texture is much more placid and chordal in this movement but the theme is still very clearly delineated. As the movement progresses, it becomes more agitated as layers are added to the registration. The movement closes with the full organ. A quick resolution leads to the final movement. This last movement consists of a theme and four variations based on the Veni creator melody. The variations are canonic in nature. The first variation pits a fragment of the melody in the soprano line against the full theme in the bass. The second variation, marked pianissimo, is a brief respite for the player (this section is for manuals only) before entering the third variation which is once again a canon between the soprano and bass voices. The final variation opens with a rapid figuration reminiscent of the first movement and ends with full organ.
Suite, Op. 5 represents one of the high points in the composer’s substantial output for the organ. As with his other works for the instrument, it makes considerable demands on the player. The first movement, a Prelude in E flat minor, is constructed as a large arch. It opens with a funereal theme that exploits the organ’s darkest, most brooding colors. As the movement progresses, the brighter organ stops slowly overcome the darkness of the opening until the grand sound of the full instrument bursts forth. From this great expanse of sound, Duruflé gradually returns to the contemplative mood of the opening.
The second movement is a graceful Sicilienne. The plaintive theme is isolated in various solo stops, accompanied by an eighth note figuration; these episodes alternate with a chordal texture played on string stops. The final Toccata, one of the most difficult pieces in the organ literature, is a sonic whirlwind that eschews the sort of consistent pattern of fast notes that characterizes many French organ toccatas; rather, it unfolds in a more improvisatory spirit.
Orchestre de la Cité & Ensemble Vocal Michel Piquemal
Michel Piquemal: conductor
Marc Vieillefon: violin
Eric Lebrun: organ
Didier Henry: baritone
01. Messe “Cum Jubilo” Op.11 – I. Kyrie (3:12)
02. Messe “Cum Jubilo” Op.11 – II. Gloria (5:02)
03. Messe “Cum Jubilo” Op.11 – III. Sanctus (3:32)
04. Messe “Cum Jubilo” Op.11 – IV. Benedictus (2:19)
05. Messe “Cum Jubilo” Op.11 – V. Agnus Dei (4:35)
06. Prélude, Adagio Et Choral Varié Sur Le “Veni Creator” – I. Prelude (7:53)
07. Prélude, Adagio Et Choral Varié Sur Le “Veni Creator” – II. Adagio (6:28)
08. Prélude, Adagio Et Choral Varié Sur Le “Veni Creator” – III. Choral varié (8:46)
09. Suite Pour Orgue Op.5 – I. Prélude (Lento) (7:55)
10. Suite Pour Orgue Op.5 – II. Sicilienne (Allegro moderato) (6:09)
11. Suite Pour Orgue Op.5 – III. Toccata (Allegro ma non troppo) (7:32)