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Maurice et Marie-Madeleine Duruflé en Concert à Notre-Dame de Paris
Charles TOURNEMIRE (1870-1939)

Choral improvisé sur ‘Victimae paschali’ (1931) [8:23]
Fantaisie improvisée - Improvisation sur ‘Ave Maris Stella’ (1931) [9:30]
Cesar FRANCK (1822-1890)
Choral No. 1 en mi majeur (1890) [15:26]
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
Aria de la 6ème Symphonie, Op. 59 (1930) [7:41]
Marcel DUPRE (1886-1971)
Variations sur un vieux noël, Op. 20 (1922) [11:58]
Cesar FRANCK
Fantaisie en la majeur major (1878) [14:35]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)
Prélude et fugue sur A.L.A.I.N. Op. 7 (1942) [11:21]
Maurice Duruflé (organ)
Marie-Madeleine Duruflé (organ)
rec. live, Notre-Dame, Paris, 1970-72
SOLSTICE SOCD304 [79:05]

Maurice Duruflé forged a double career as an organist and composer. In the latter role he was never prolific and amongst his relatively small output, his Requiem is the work for which he is most remembered. His wife Marie-Madeleine was also a renowned organist. They married in 1953, and the fact that she was twenty years his junior raised a few eyebrows at the time. The enduring success of the marriage was in part down to their contrasting personalities which seemed to complement each other. He was reserved, melancholic and deeply introverted, whilst she commanded a lively and vivacious personality. They gave many concerts together as a man and wife team, even travelling many times to the USA. What made these concerts popular was their devotion and dedication to the nineteenth century French Romantic school of organ playing.

Very welcome indeed are these selections from three concerts which took place in the early 1970s at Notre-Dame. The composers featured were of great significance to the Duruflés. Maurice could count Vierne and Tournemire amongst his teachers, and Madeleine studied with Marcel Dupré.

There is no doubt that the artistry of these two organists is top-drawer. Yet it is Madeleine’s playing which inhabits the brighter firmament. Maurice can seem a tad reserved at times, and even conservative in his choice of registrations. Madeleine is more adventurous in her selections, and her interpretations are more daring and exciting. The closing pages of the Dupré Variations are a case in point, where she almost knocks you off your feet with such verve and energized delivery. Similarly in the Tournemire works, she shows great resourcefulness and imagination. The ethereal quality she elicits from the instrument at 2:30 in the Fantaisie improvisée provides a diaphanous and other-worldly contrast to the more declamatory sections of the piece. On the evidence here, it is her playing that showcases greater fantasy and vision, drawing you into her world.

The concerts are in remarkably fine sound considering they are now over forty years old. Lovers of nineteenth century French organ music will want this. I will certainly return to it often and, at 79 minutes, it is a generously timed release.

Stephen Greenbank