The Organ

Elgie in Memoriam Marcel Dupr

Julius Berger on Cello and Carolyn Shuster Fournier on Organ
59' 52"

Marcel Dupr's affinity with the cello is well known: his mother, Alice, was an excellent cellist, and the sound of the instrument is often reflected in his organ music, from the early G minor Prelude to the opening of Evocation. It is good; therefore, to have his rarely heard Sonata for Cello and Organ on disc, together with Trois Pices, Op.13. The Sonata is a particularly fine work, dedicated to the memory of his friend, the cellist Paul Bazelaire, and written the year after the death, from cancer, of Marcel's own daughter Marguerite. Of the fill-up pieces, the Prire by Saint-Sans is probably the most notable: I didn't feel that the cello and organ arrangement of the Adagio from Vierne's 3me Symphonie shed any new light on the music, and the whole programme is somber, by its very nature. Ironically, the lightest moment on the whole disc is the last movement of the Cello Sonatas. Julius Berger plays these pieces very well indeed, with technical security and musical insight. The organ used for the cello and organ pieces is the small two manual Cavaill-Coll instrument at St Bernhard, Mainz. Although much more limited than Dupr's house organ at Meudon, it copes well enough, and makes the right sounds.

The CD notes tell us that the recording presents "one further step towards an experience of organ music as close as possible to live performance." The engineer took this very literally: in quiet passages, the music is almost drowned by the performers' breathing, and the cello is unfortunately balanced far too close. When the organ takes a main theme, it is often inaudible, which is a great pity. The CD notes contain some interesting but untitled photographs of the Dupr family, and a number of appaling gaffes, for example, "Louis Vierne, the first organist of Ntre Dame Cathedral"

An interesting disc, let down by poor recorded balance, and poor CD notes. DBr