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Duruflé Toccata


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Some months ago I attended an organ recital by a well-known cathedral organist who ended his programme with the Duruflé Toccata. I was rather surprised when, on the final page, the notes in my score (and on the Latry recording ) were replaced with what sounded like a shorter, more lame ending. For a moment I thought that he'd lost it, but that last page is far from being the most difficult part of the work and his performance had otherwise been more than proficient. During the mêlée afterwards I mentioned this to a fellow organist and he said that ending we had just heard was a later revision by Duruflé - and he preferred it (but I didn't). Now I know Duruflé thought the Toccata so weak he forbade his wife from playing it, but I've not been able to find any information anywhere about him revising it. Anyone know anything about this?

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Some months ago I attended an organ recital by a well-known cathedral organist who ended his programme with the Duruflé Toccata. I was rather surprised when, on the final page, the notes in my score (and on the Latry recording ) were replaced with what sounded like a shorter, more lame ending. For a moment I thought that he'd lost it, but that last page is far from being the most difficult part of the work and his performance had otherwise been more than proficient. During the mêlée afterwards I mentioned this to a fellow organist and he said that ending we had just heard was a later revision by Duruflé - and he preferred it (but I didn't). Now I know Duruflé thought the Toccata so weak he forbade his wife from playing it, but I've not been able to find any information anywhere about him revising it. Anyone know anything about this?

 

====================

 

I'm glad someone else doesn't like the ending to the revised Toccata, which Durufle did indeed re-write. There are those who will know all about it better than I, and they will surely respond. However, I have seen both editions, and I have the earlier version.

 

It's interesting, but I cannot think of a single organist who has ever recorded the revised version!

 

Durufle may not have liked it, but I personally think it to be the best French organ-toccata ever written.

 

MM

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Some months ago I attended an organ recital by a well-known cathedral organist who ended his programme with the Duruflé Toccata. I was rather surprised when, on the final page, the notes in my score (and on the Latry recording ) were replaced with what sounded like a shorter, more lame ending. For a moment I thought that he'd lost it, but that last page is far from being the most difficult part of the work and his performance had otherwise been more than proficient. During the mêlée afterwards I mentioned this to a fellow organist and he said that ending we had just heard was a later revision by Duruflé - and he preferred it (but I didn't). Now I know Duruflé thought the Toccata so weak he forbade his wife from playing it, but I've not been able to find any information anywhere about him revising it. Anyone know anything about this?

 

I've got the John Scott/St Pauls' Cathedral CD of Durufle's organ works, and the notes state (re the Toccata) ".........He revised the score and and added a new ending at a later date." Nothing more specific than that I'm afraid. Having been introduced to the Suite by listening to a (1970's?) recording by Walter Hillsman at Coventry Cathedral, I prefer the "new" ending, as played by him.

 

Graham

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However, I have seen both editions, and I have the earlier version.
Fascinating! Is the revised version published then? Who by?

 

Durufle may not have liked it, but I personally think it to be the best French organ-toccata ever written.
Oh yes! I just wish I could play the ****** thing! If only I'd come across it when I was young and nimble... The first couple of pages are OK, then it starts to get a bit tricky.
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I've got the John Scott/St Pauls' Cathedral CD of Durufle's organ works, and the notes state (re the Toccata) ".........He revised the score and and added a new ending at a later date." Nothing more specific than that I'm afraid. Having been introduced to the Suite by listening to a (1970's?) recording by Walter Hillsman at Coventry Cathedral, I prefer the "new" ending, as played by him.

 

Graham

 

Actually, John Scott unwittingly recorded a third version. If you listen carefully to the penultimate bar, he plays C naturals (instead of C sharps). Apparently, neither he nor his producer noticed, until a colleague pointed-out the error, once the recording was published.

 

Understandably, John Scott was not particularly pleased!

 

However, I agree with MM - I think that it is a superb piece.

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Actually, John Scott unwittingly recorded a third version. If you listen carefully to the penultimate bar, he plays C naturals (instead of C sharps). Apparently, neither he nor his producer noticed, until a colleague pointed-out the error, once the recording was published.

 

Understandably, John Scott was not particularly pleased!

 

However, I agree with MM - I think that it is a superb piece.

 

I agree - it is superb. But let's not forget the rest of the Suite, especially the Prelude. I like this piece even more - it's well-written, and very atmospheric. There isn't a note out of place, AND it's easier to play than the Toccata! :rolleyes:

 

Graham

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I agree - it is superb. But let's not forget the rest of the Suite, especially the Prelude. I like this piece even more - it's well-written, and very atmospheric. There isn't a note out of place, AND it's easier to play than the Toccata! :rolleyes:

 

Graham

You're right Graham - the Prelude is superb. I remember DGW playing a heavily cut version of the Toccata in a live R3 recital from the Bridgewater Hall a couple of years ago - it wasn't only the ending but substantial amounts of the middle that went missing in action. I nearly fell off the sofa when I heard it - it was very well played but wasn't convincing at all. I have spent a fair bit of time around the Duruflé organ works in the last few years but have never come across this cut - does any know more about it? There are some interesting articulation and registration variants in the any different editions of the Sicilienne too.

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I agree - it is superb. But let's not forget the rest of the Suite, especially the Prelude. I like this piece even more - it's well-written, and very atmospheric. There isn't a note out of place, AND it's easier to play than the Toccata! :rolleyes:

 

I'm afraid I can't say which ending is which as I do not have the music here. There may be even more versions than just two, with the revisions affecting more than just the end. One was recorded by Virgil Fox on the album "Organ Music from France" (EMI Classics) (plus Virgil's own additional bars in the beginning of the "Sicilienne", suggesting, strangely, a wind-up mechanism starting the piece). Philippe Levèbre, in his recording at Chartres cathedral, also played a version without the penultimate solo passage for the pedals.

 

I greatly prefer the ending played by John Scott and most other players I have heard. It not only brings in an inversion of the second theme, but also effectively links the ending back to the very beginning of the Prelude, of which it is a transposed version with the intervals expanded (Prelude: E#-G-F#-D, Toccata: G-C#-B-E#).

 

Maybe this was how John Scott came to play the C-natural in the final pedal solo passage -- it is closer to the beginning of the Suite. In dubio pro reo -- maybe it was just his analytical brain.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Fascinating! Is the revised version published then? Who by?

 

Oh yes! I just wish I could play the ****** thing! If only I'd come across it when I was young and nimble... The first couple of pages are OK, then it starts to get a bit tricky.

 

Given the vintage of many contributors to this site I am surprised nobody has yet mentioned the performance by Noel Rawsthorne at Liverpool on the very first LP of EMI's Great Cathedral Organ Series, an oversight now dealt with.

 

As for more help on versions (and MM might perhaps be able to flesh out further details) there was a Dr Gwillym Beechey in the Music Department at Hull who was very interested in Durufle and wrote about his organ music, I believe in the Musical Times, but it would have to be some fairly erudite (and academically respectable) musical publication. An internet search against his name (and although I do not vouch for my spelling of his Christian name, no variant should turn up too many references) might yield results especially for anyone with library research facilities- something I am blessedly now free from.

 

Brian Childs

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I have two versions of the Suite, an old one and the 'current' one, they indeed differ in the ending of the toccata.

 

But if you're interested in Duruflé's revisions, check out the Scherzo, of which I also have two versions:

The 'old' version (probably somewhere around 1929) differs a lot from the current, in notes (especially the last 'fast' part) and registration. Duruflé should have forbidden the use of this old version as Susan Landale taught me (she knew Mme Duruflé well), but I like it.

 

BTW Frederic Blanc insists on using the latest versions of all works, me pointing him to possible interest in different version in concert or on disc didn't change his mind - 'please, only use the latest version' (just wondering what 150 years will do with that, 'Authentic Duruflé' on period instruments ....)

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I agree - it is superb. But let's not forget the rest of the Suite, especially the Prelude. I like this piece even more - it's well-written, and very atmospheric. There isn't a note out of place, AND it's easier to play than the Toccata! :rolleyes:
Yes, I agree the whole suite is superb. But my own favourite movement is the Sicilienne. A wonderful piece of writing - and I can actually play it!
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I also think the Prélude is the most outstanding movement from the Suite Op5.

 

I have a cd of Cambridge Voices singing Duruflé's music, recorded at St Étienne du Mont that also includes three works by Ian de Massini (b.1959), the first of which, his Deploration sur le nom de Duruflé uses a theme of the Prélude to haunting effect. It marks the sorrow of his friends, family and parish as they mourn his passing. Further on there are passages lifted from the Veni Creator variations, too. A deeply moving piece. I can thoroughly recommend it.

 

 

Herald HAVPCD 234

 

H

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I only know the initial ending from Pierre Pincemaille's recording (at the Oberlinger organ in Bonn-Beuel, Germany, published by Motette - a nice CD, by the way!).

 

I must agree with the other participants who prefer the revised (and most often played) ending.

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David M Patrick has recorded the Op 5 Suite twice ( Buckfast Abbey 1976, label escapes me at the moment, and Coventry Cathedral, complete Durufle, A.S.V 1996 ) and uses both endings for the toccata.

 

The Coventry version has the descending triplet figure, unison man / ped for the last couple of bars ( sorry, don't have the score to hand at the moment ), I assume this is the revised version?

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David M Patrick has recorded the Op 5 Suite twice ( Buckfast Abbey 1976, label escapes me at the moment, and Coventry Cathedral, complete Durufle, A.S.V 1996 ) and uses both endings for the toccata.

 

The Coventry version has the descending triplet figure, unison man / ped for the last couple of bars ( sorry, don't have the score to hand at the moment ), I assume this is the revised version?

 

============================

 

The one with the descending triplet figures is the revised version, which is a bit tame as compared to the original.

 

I awlays like the original, because those great gaps and syncopated crashes of sound make it almost impossible to guess where the work is likely to come to an end....I love it.

 

Durufle should never have been allowed to tamper with it!!

 

:(

 

MM

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============================

 

The one with the descending triplet figures is the revised version, which is a bit tame as compared to the original.

 

I awlays like the original, because those great gaps and syncopated crashes of sound make it almost impossible to guess where the work is likely to come to an end....I love it.

 

Durufle should never have been allowed to tamper with it!!

 

:(

 

MM

 

 

Absolutely, I much prefer the original version!

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Personally, I prefer the 'triplets in octaves' version - the other just sounds awkward and abrupt to my ears!

 

The Prélude is indeed a superb movement.

 

I wonder why Duruflé turned against the Toccata - I would agree with whoever it was who expressed the thought that it is arguably the most satisfying and exciting Toccata in the repertoire (or something to that effect).

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Personally, I prefer the 'triplets in octaves' version - the other just sounds awkward and abrupt to my ears!

 

The Prélude is indeed a superb movement.

 

I wonder why Duruflé turned against the Toccata - I would agree with whoever it was who expressed the thought that it is arguably the most satisfying and exciting Toccata in the repertoire (or something to that effect).

I think he came to dislike the main theme - in an interview about the piece he said 'it doesn't matter how good the sauce is if the meat is poor' or words to that effect...

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I think he came to dislike the main theme - in an interview about the piece he said 'it doesn't matter how good the sauce is if the meat is poor' or words to that effect...

 

Oh, I see! Thank you, Stephen.

 

I know that he forbade his wife to play it - even on their piano at home. I also understand that Duruflé was extremely fastidious with regard to his own compositions, but I rather like the somewhat angular theme - it makes a pleasant change from a fragmented descending scale in F major....

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I think he came to dislike the main theme - in an interview about the piece he said 'it doesn't matter how good the sauce is if the meat is poor' or words to that effect...

 

Maybe in his wisdom he was right. But he didn't like the Requiem much either - the story goes that Dupré rescued the manuscript from being thrown in the fireplace.

 

Personally I like the (revised) Toccata a lot.

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That settles that then. It's the revised version that Latry plays and which is in my copy. I've always thought that ending marvellous, even before I knew there was an alternative. When I heard the early ending I thought it very disappointing in comparison.

 

It's interesting that there's no consensus here on which version is better. I wonder whether our tastes are influenced by which one we got to know first. I'm pretty sure mine is.

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It's interesting that there's no consensus here on which version is better. I wonder whether our tastes are influenced by which one we got to know first. I'm pretty sure mine is.

 

 

Hmm, mine too, I think.

 

I spent many hours listening to David Patrick playing the Op.5 Suite before he first recorded it....in those days he used to practise in my church!

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Hmm, mine too, I think.

 

I spent many hours listening to David Patrick playing the Op.5 Suite before he first recorded it....in those days he used to practise in my church!

 

Are you referring to the recording which he made at Buckfast Abbey of the whole Suite (Op. 5)? I have a copy of this and I have always been impressed by the excellent playing on this LP.

 

It is only the organ which lets it down. It is a superb instrument - in a generous acoustic - but it just does not happen to sound particularly French. The ensemble (and the tutti) is quint mixture dominated - wht the chorus reeds a very poor second. Even the Pedal Bombarde is not that exciting on the recording, however it may originally have sounded to RD in the close confines of the North Aisle pre-1963.

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When I ordered the music for the Suite (some while ago now), I was expecting to see the Toccata as per the earlier version (which was the only version I'd heard up to that point). In fact, what turned up was the later version.

 

Who publishes the earlier version? Or are they both through Durand - must one specify which version one is after?

 

Rgds

MJF

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