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Philip

Dupre - Cortege Et Litanie

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This is one of those moments where you hear something for the first time and think "I wonder if I could play that!"

 

I went to Evensong at Southwell this afternoon and Paul Hale played this as the voluntary. I liked its tunefulness and the wonderful climax at the end.

 

Does anyone on here play it? If so, how difficult is it? Any particular advice? I've never played any Dupre before, so don't know quite what to expect from it!

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Nowhere near as difficult as some Dupre (or even a lot of Dupre) but there are some quite big stretches in places for the hands (see the advice on this subject given earlier today on another topic by Cynic). Well worth learning but it needs careful control both technically and in the gradual build-up. You also need an instrument that can supply the necessary colour and build up. A very satisfying piece to learn and play. If you've never played Dupre before (apart perhaps from the short preludes) this is a very good place to start.

 

Malcolm

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Guest Echo Gamba

I approached this piece in a similar way, back in the '80's having heard it on an LP (not sure, but may have been Dudley Holroyd at Bath Abbey - Pre Klais of course)

 

Compared to, say, the Preludes & Fugues which I have never attempted in public, I found this relatively straightforward to learn.

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Compared to, say, the Preludes & Fugues which I have never attempted in public, I found this relatively straightforward to learn.

While the A flat P&F still requires a fairly solid technique, it's not nearly so daunting as the earlier B and g pieces. Imho it's well worth the effort.

 

Rgds

MJF

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Guest Echo Gamba
..... requires a fairly solid technique.....

 

Rgds

MJF

 

 

 

Me? :(

 

Seriously, at a tangent, the initial post in this topic set me thinking; as we are only talking four weeks of Advent, I always ensure that every voluntary I play during the season has some direct relevance - chorale preludes, selected French Noels, dare I admit also to some Mayhew publications?! - etc. surely there is enough suitable repertoire out there not to have recourse to repertoire that could be played at any time? I follow the same line during the Christmas season, although I will include suitably "flashy" general repertoire for big occasions - Vierne, Widor etc.

 

I would be interested to hear others' views.

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Me? :lol:

 

Seriously, at a tangent, the initial post in this topic set me thinking; as we are only talking four weeks of Advent, I always ensure that every voluntary I play during the season has some direct relevance - chorale preludes, selected French Noels, dare I admit also to some Mayhew publications?! - etc. surely there is enough suitable repertoire out there not to have recourse to repertoire that could be played at any time? I follow the same line during the Christmas season, although I will include suitably "flashy" general repertoire for big occasions - Vierne, Widor etc.

 

I would be interested to hear others' views.

I'd assumed immediately that you were referring specifically to the well known B and g P&Fs, and not to the others, which (at least compared to all the recorded and recital outings the B and g get) appear not to be so well known - a great pity, too. Any way, my once proud tail is now between my legs ... :(

 

As to appropriate repertoire, well I must admit that I used to hold more "worthy" views on this, but now ... Where I am these days (Perth, WA), there seem to be so few who can recognise anything liturgically appropriate, unless it be an improvisation very clearly based on a hymn that was sung only a few minutes before. (I'm not sounding a little jaded here, am I?) Perhaps more appropriate to another thread, but the "Christmas voluntary" I'll be playing this year is Bach's G P&F bwv541.

 

Where were we? Ah, the Cortège & Litanie. Well, how about the 15 "Vêpres du Commun"? Or the Sept Pièces? There's some good stuff in there - a reasonable introduction to Dupré, I would have thought. (But never the Carillon, please. How could he write such dreary hash?)

 

Rgds

MJF

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As to appropriate repertoire, well I must admit that I used to hold more "worthy" views on this, but now ... Where I am these days (Perth, WA), there seem to be so few who can recognise anything liturgically appropriate, unless it be an improvisation very clearly based on a hymn that was sung only a few minutes before. (I'm not sounding a little jaded here, am I?) Perhaps more appropriate to another thread, but the "Christmas voluntary" I'll be playing this year is Bach's G P&F bwv541.

Which reminds me that quite some years ago I played a service for the dedication of a new Catholic church. Thinking myself very clever, I played Willan's prelude on Urbs Hierusalem Beata as the recessional, as what I considered a liturgically appropriate piece - only to be told something to the effect, "Didn't you happen to note that it was written as a prelude, rather than a postlude? In any case, it's the worst dirge Willan ever wrote!" (Which I don't think it is - but there I had it, I'd been well and truly put in my place.

 

Rgds

MJF

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Guest Echo Gamba
I'd assumed immediately that you were referring specifically to the well known B and g P&Fs, and not to the others, which (at least compared to all the recorded and recital outings the B and g get) appear not to be so well known - a great pity, too. Any way, my once proud tail is now between my legs ... :(

 

As to appropriate repertoire, well I must admit that I used to hold more "worthy" views on this, but now ... Where I am these days (Perth, WA), there seem to be so few who can recognise anything liturgically appropriate, unless it be an improvisation very clearly based on a hymn that was sung only a few minutes before. (I'm not sounding a little jaded here, am I?) Perhaps more appropriate to another thread, but the "Christmas voluntary" I'll be playing this year is Bach's G P&F bwv541.

 

Where were we? Ah, the Cortège & Litanie. Well, how about the 15 "Vêpres du Commun"? Or the Sept Pièces? There's some good stuff in there - a reasonable introduction to Dupré, I would have thought. (But never the Carillon, please. How could he write such dreary hash?)

 

Rgds

 

 

MJF

 

 

BWV 541 is suitably festive!

 

I was thinking of the well known P & F's (B, g etc) I am unfamiliar with any others

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I approached this piece in a similar way, back in the '80's having heard it on an LP (not sure, but may have been Dudley Holroyd at Bath Abbey - Pre Klais of course)

 

Compared to, say, the Preludes & Fugues which I have never attempted in public, I found this relatively straightforward to learn.

 

Sounds pretty good on the Bath Abbey organ post-Klais too! (I played it once whilst I was there, and heard the Norwich Cathedral Organ Scholar play it very well during a lunchtime prom.) Pedalboard has top Gs which came into their own...

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A few months ago, I heard a young Greek lady called Elli Glarou play the Cortege et Litanie at Armley, was played really well, (as I have only heard it on a recording by John Scott at St. Pauls before.) and it suited the Armley organ quite well

 

Peter

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Sounds pretty good on the Bath Abbey organ post-Klais too! (I played it once whilst I was there, and heard the Norwich Cathedral Organ Scholar play it very well during a lunchtime prom.) Pedalboard has top Gs which came into their own...

 

St Sulpice pedal board only goes to F - was this written for Dupre's American tours?

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It is said that most of music by Dupre was written for his US tours. Recordings are of course available. Only this morning I was reading in Organists' Review for November 2003 Paul Hale's review of the first four volumes of Ben van Oosten's complete Dupre, which appear to be coming out very slowly, but a new volume is always welcomed. To quote Paul Hale " (he) clearly revels in this music and plays it with the utmost conviction...not something I'd now wish to be without." The end of the story is that Volume 10 is being issued this very week, and it includes Cortege et Litanie; recorded at Birmingham Town Hall which is an unusual choice of instrument for van Oosten. My copy is already ordered and I hope on the way soon.

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St Sulpice pedal board only goes to F - was this [Cortège et Litanie] written for Dupre's American tours?

According to Dupré's Recollections, in 1922 he "composes Cortège et Litanie, one of five pieces of incidental music for a dramatic production, giving it its final form as one of four piano pieces. Subsequently he transcribes it for organ solo, then for organ and orchestra." Its first performance (as an organ solo) was given at the John Wanamaker Store in September 1923.

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I find playing the notes is not too difficult (you need a 32 note pedal board), but the main difficulty I find is managing the registration changes in the earlier parts unless you have a sequencer.

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Many thanks as always for all the replies - I will try to track it down over Christmas - I'm sure one of the London shops will have it somewhere. If I can master it in time, then I'm thinking of doing it for Ash Wednesday.

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I find playing the notes is not too difficult (you need a 32 note pedal board), but the main difficulty I find is managing the registration changes in the earlier parts unless you have a sequencer.

 

How you you get away with it (and indeed other pieces) if you have - as in my case - a 30-note pedal board? I would be interested to hear of the various ways people have got around this problem which must after all be quite common.....

 

 

Peter

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How do you guys play the semiquaver theme that enters at the bottom pf page 2 - emphasis on the beat or syncopated (i.e. treating the first 2 notes of each phrase as if they were an upbeat)?

 

I have heard eminent players do both.

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Guest Cynic
The definitive performance?

 

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gRcMtB27z7E

 

 

Peter

 

 

Thanks for linking to this. There are some very interesting differences between Dupre's interpretation on the recording and the printed score. In particular, I like the way that during the last two pages he plays the alternating chords LH first, RH second. This seems better to me than the version I know well which is the other way around.

 

The Saint-Sulpice organ of course endows this version with its own immense mystique and force, but for all that this performance strikes me as curiously 'matter-of-fact'. I feel the same about the recorded versions of Dupre's G minor Prelude and Fugue, where I am certain he is not his own best interpreter.

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Thanks for linking to this. There are some very interesting differences between Dupre's interpretation on the recording and the printed score. In particular, I like the way that during the last two pages he plays the alternating chords LH first, RH second. This seems better to me than the version I know well which is the other way around.

 

The Saint-Sulpice organ of course endows this version with its own immense mystique and force, but for all that this performance strikes me as curiously 'matter-of-fact'. I feel the same about the recorded versions of Dupre's G minor Prelude and Fugue, where I am certain he is not his own best interpreter.

 

It seems a little on the fast side. The opening, in particular, lacks the gravitas we have become used to.

 

It is often said that composers are not always their best interpreters. I would normally put this down to their not having the technique - or in the case of them conducting, perhaps not being able to get over what they wanted within the available rehearsal time - which perhaps amounts to technique again.

 

But Dupre, of all people, can't be accused of not having the technique, so perhaps there is more to it. But what?

 

The way he plays the semiquaver theme is like one of those visual illusions that one moment appears to be a vase and the next is two faces in profile. He certainly isn't going out of his way to keep the emphasis off the third dot. Possibly those performers who do so are taking the dots too literally? I wonder why he didn't notate it with a dot over the first note and a slur between the second and third?

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Is the structure (RH melody, LH sparse chording at least initially) of the litanie possibly the model for Langlais Incantation, which itself has as its second subject a litany? (Langlais was a pupil of Dupre). Indeed, was Dupre's own litanie subject taken from an earlier source? The words Kyrie Eleison fit perfectly to it, and Langlais' work uses the Kyrie Eeison from the Litany to the Saints.

 

Peter

 

 

PS (editing): also, the last page of the Litanie, with its alternate RH/LH semiquaver chords resembles the last two pages of the Incntation, I think.

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Is the structure (RH melody, LH sparse chording at least initially) of the litanie possibly the model for Langlais Incantation, which itself has as its second subject a litany? (Langlais was a pupil of Dupre). Indeed, was Dupre's own litanie subject taken from an earlier source? The words Kyrie Eleison fit perfectly to it, and Langlais' work uses the Kyrie Eeison from the Litany to the Saints.

 

Peter

 

PS (editing): also, the last page of the Litanie, with its alternate RH/LH semiquaver chords resembles the last two pages of the Incntation, I think.

Langlais' Incantation pour un jour Saint uses six different plainsong fragments from the Litany of the Saints, used in the Holy Saturday liturgy. I'm not totally convinced by the link with the Dupré, and Sue Kirkland argues in Organists' Review (May 2005) that there is a link between Langlais' Incantation and Alain's Litanies. If anything, one could put forward a case for *Litanies* being influenced by the [Cortège et] Litanie.

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Nowhere near as difficult as some Dupre (or even a lot of Dupre) but there are some quite big stretches in places for the hands (see the advice on this subject given earlier today on another topic by Cynic).

Malcolm

 

There is a particularly awkward one on page 3, bar 4 (I think) when the left hand holds first a B & G# (thumb and 2nd) and then the 3rd and 5th fingers join with D# and lower G#. I think that if you had a sequencer that low G# could be played by the foot coupled up, provided you adjust the registration for the proper pedal entry in the next bar!

 

Back to a question I asked earlier about this piece: what if you don't have a pedalboard that goes to G? The G appears twice (I think) in the entire piece, so is it legitimate to substitute a G an octave lower? Indeed what is the general rule, if there is one, here?

 

Thanks

 

 

Peter

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I have just listened to Dupre's own recording again and is it my imagination or does he speed up towards the end, ie from the couple of bars before the Cortege and Litanie themes merge? When I started to learn this piece I was warned about this and so always try to aim on the slow side.

 

Peter

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Being a big Dupre fanatic, this is one of my favourite works of his - and certainly one of his more audience friendly numbers.

 

As mentioned, if one is lucky enough to have a sequencer, the registration change could be made quickly. However, since they are non-existent over here (as well as pistons on a great number of instruments), I tend to play from the beginning of the Litanie up to the pedal entry with both hands on the same manual - and then change left hand to a manual with a softer accompaniment. I can then play the top left hand B with the thumb of my right hand. Alternatively, one could begin on the accompaniment and then switch to the flute and solo out from the bar of the pedal entry. I'd be most interested to find out how Dupre played this himself, however.

 

As for those top pedal Gs - although in my score I've notated them in pencil an octave lower, I tend to leave them out as I've never been quite satisfied with the result - it seems to disrupt that ascending-descending figure to my ears. I think there is a similar issue in the Symphonie-Passion - although I might be thinking of the wrong work.

 

As this topic has been revisited - I'd be most interested to hear of the experiences of others of playing Dupre's works.

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