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Maurice Duruflé – Sacred Choral & Organ Works Vol.2

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.

The Artists:
Orchestre de la Cité & Ensemble Vocal Michel Piquemal
Michel Piquemal: conductor
Marc Vieillefon: violin
Eric Lebrun: organ
Didier Henry: baritone

Track List:
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)

Stereo, DDD, mp3 (320 kbps), 62:30 minutes, 155,45 Mb. Covers & info included.

Maurice Duruflé – Requiem & Quatre Motets

Maurice Duruflé – Requiem & Quatre Motets

Recorded on 4 & 5 October, 1985 in London.

About the author:
Maurice Duruflé (11/01/1902, Louviers – 16/06/1986 – Louveciennes) was a French composer, organist, and pedagogue, who became in 1912 chorister at the Rouen Cathedral Choir School, where he studied piano and organ with Jules Haelling. At age 17, upon moving to Paris, he took private organ lessons with Charles Tournemire (whom he assisted at Ste-Clotilde until 1927), Guilmant and Vierne. In 1920 Duruflé entered the Conservatoire de Paris, where he took courses in organ with Gigout (Premier Prix, 1922), harmony with Jean Gallon (Premier Prix, 1924), fugue with Caussade (Premier Prix, 1924), and composition with Ducas (Premier Prix, 1928). He graduatied with first prize also in piano accompaniment.
In 1927, Louis Vierne nominated Maurice Duruflé as his assistant at Notre-Dame. Duruflé became titular organist of St. Étienne-du-Mont in Paris in 1929, a position he held for the rest of his life. In 1939, he premiered Francis Poulenc’s Organ Concerto (the Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor); he had advised Poulenc on the registrations of the organ part. In 1943 he became professor of harmony at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he worked until 1970. In 1947, Duruflé wrote what is probably the most famous of his very few pieces: the Requiem Op. 9, for soloists, choir, organ and orchestra. The same year, Marie-Madeleine Chevalier became his assistant at St-Étienne-du-Mont. They married in 1953. The couple became a famous and popular organ duo, going on tour together several times throughout the sixties and early 1970’s.
Maurice Duruflé suffered severe injuries in a car accident in 1975, and as a result he gave up performing; indeed he was largely confined to his apartment, leaving the service at St-Étienne-du-Mont to his wife Marie-Madeleine (who was also injured in the accident).
As a composer, Maurice Duruflé was extremely self-critical. He only published a handful of works and often continued to edit and change pieces after publication. For instance, the Toccata from Suite, Op. 5 has a completely different ending in the first edition than in the more recent version, and the score to the Fugue sur le nom d’Alain originally indicated accelerando throughout. The result of this perfectionism is that his music, especially his organ music, holds a very high position in the repertoire. His best known compostions are a Requiem (1947) and a Mass (1967)

About these works:

The Requiem:
In 1947, Maurice Duruflé was already working on a suite of pieces for organ based on the Gregorian chants for the requiem mass (the service for the dead), when he was commissioned by his publisher Durand to write a large-scale work based on those texts. The resulting Requiem, originally for orchestra and chorus, is the culmination of Duruflé’s style, mixing chant, quasi-Renaissance counterpoint, and sumptuous harmony derived from Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel. Duruflé made three versions of this work; the final one, completed in 1961, is for choir, string orchestra, trumpets, and organ; it is the most practical and the most commonly used. He used the same text as Fauré had done in his Requiem of 1889, omitting the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) section which, although it provided some of the most spectacular music in the Mozart, Berlioz, and Verdi settings, was not compatible with the gentler, more reassuring tone of the work. This peaceful quality is in many ways simply a reflection of the Requiem’s indebtedness to Gregorian chant, the flowing, easy quality of which serves as a musical template for many of the movements (chant formed a large part of Duruflé’s musical upbringing: from 1912 to 1918 he was a boy chorister at the cathedral in Rouen, where the services were almost entirely chanted, and his professional education was at the Paris Conservatoire, where harmonizing chant melodies was a large part of the training for organists). Duruflé presents the chants quite clearly, much as in the Four Motets on Gregorian themes. The serene mood is enhanced by pervasive imitative counterpoint in a quasi-Renaissance melodic style. There is often a similarity of sound between Duruflé’s music and that of Vaughan Williams, who briefly studied in France and also used modal melodies and counterpoint, though for him these archaic-sounding techniques were inspired by English folk music and the composers of the Tudor era. With Duruflé, the modal counterpoint is supported by rich, and very French, added-note harmonies. Duruflé’s grounding in the past is evident throughout the Requiem. The opening movement, one of the most beautiful in twentieth century music, sets a mood for the rest of the piece: running sixteenths (a favorite device of Duruflé’s) create a wash of sound, preparing the entrance of the tenors and basses intoning the requiem chant, soon accompanied by a wordless vocalise from the women’s voices. The original chant melodies are present in many of the movements; a striking instance is the Kyrie, where the trumpets sound the chant melody in long notes over a busy contrapuntal texture in the choir (which in turn is based on a rhythmicized version of the chant). The effect is similar to that of Bach’s famous cantus firmus cantata opening movements — Wachet Auf and Ein’ feste Burg are good examples. Another striking section is the Pie Jesu, which Duruflé sets in a style very similar to Fauré, with a mezzo-soprano solo accompanied only by organ and cello. In the final movement, In Paradisum, the sopranos, supported by full chords in the strings, sing the incantatory chant promising the deceased a peaceful welcome into heaven. At the words “chorus angelorum te suscipiat” (May the choir of angels receive you), the other singers enter with a beautiful, slowly descending passage to end the work. Duruflé’s wife has said that while composing his Requiem, which is dedicated to the memory of his father, Duruflé “cried several times”; it is indeed one of the most moving religious works of the twentieth century.

Quatre Motets:

Duruflé’s choral setting of “Ubi caritas” is one of the most popular sacred a cappella works of the twentieth century; it is, however, only one of a group of four works of equally high caliber. The Four Motets, written just before the final version of the composer’s Requiem, are dedicated to Auguste Le Guennant, the director of the Gregorian Institute in Paris at the time. Each is based on a different Gregorian chant tune which remains prominent throughout; this process is similar to that employed in the Requiem, lending the pieces a flexible, speech-like rhythm. The incipit (the first few notes) of the original melody is given in neumatic chant notation at the beginning of each motet. Each of the motets is quite short — a trait that is typical of Duruflé (even the Requiem, his largest work, is composed of nine much smaller units). Also typical is his use of Renaissance contrapuntal techniques in the service of a rich harmony derived from that of Fauré and Ravel. Performed as a set, the Four Motets have a classic arch shape, reaching a climax in the third motet (“Tu es Petrus”), then, in “Tantum ergo,” returning to the mood of serene contemplation first established in “Ubi caritas.” The text of “Ubi caritas” (“Where charity and love are, there is God”) is an antiphon usually sung on Maundy Thursday during the washing of the feet. This is the most famous of the motets, and an example of Duruflé’s style at its best: rhythmic flexibility, strong part-writing, and rich harmony provide a serene background for the chant melody. The opening phrase returns briefly at the end (Duruflé, like Chopin and other composers who tended toward shorter compositions, usually composed in ternary form), and leads to an appended “amen.””Tota pulchra es” (“You are all-beautiful”) is a setting of antiphons from the feast of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, and is sung only by the sopranos and altos. The opening melody serves as a kind of refrain, coming back twice. The pace is rather faster than in the “Ubi caritas,” and leads into the climactic third motet.
“Tu es Petrus” (“You are Peter”) is the shortest of the motets, and is a setting of the Jesus’s renaming of his disciple Simon by the Greek for “rock,” and then saying that “upon this rock will I build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The latter phrase is stated three times in Duruflé’s setting, perhaps reflecting Peter’s later three denials of Jesus. “Tu es Petrus” is much more rhythmic than the other motets, and builds to a loud climax.
In “Tantum ergo” (the last two verses of the “Pange lingua” eucharistic hymn traditionally attributed to Thomas Aquinas), the chant is sung in long notes by the sopranos. The melody is imitated and varied by the tenors, while the other voices are freely composed, with an effect similar to cantus firmus settings of chants from the Renaissance period. There are no accidentals (notes outside the key in which it is written), and very little harmonic tension. The motet, like the “Ubi caritas,” ends peacefully on a low chord with the word “amen.”

Track List:
01. Requiem -I- Introit (3:50)
02. II. Kyrie (3:57)
03. III. Domine Jesu Christe (9:08)
04. IV. Sanctus (3:24)
05. V. Pie Jesu (3:58)
06. VI. Agnus Dei (3:51)
07. VII. Lux Aeterna (4:04)
08. VIII. Libera me (6:00)
09. IX. In Paradisum (3:14)
10. Quatre Motets sur des thèmes Gregoriens op.10 – I. Ubi caritas et amor (2:45)
11. ii – Tota pulchra es (2:13)
12. III. Tu es Petrus (0:58)
13. IV. Tantum ergo (3:06)

The Artists:
English Chamber Orchestra
Matthew Best: conductor
Ann Murray: mezzo soprano
Thomas Allen: baritone
Thomas Trotter: organ

Stereo, DDD, mp3, 320 kbps, 50:28 minutes. Covers & info included.

Part1 —–   Part2