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Zimbelstern

Dupré - Le Chemin de la Croix

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Some time ago I bought a recording of this work. Listening to it recently I wondered whether it has been performed very often in the UK. I believe there is a set of readings meant to accompany it during Passiontide. Has anyone ever played it or heard it live? It features some of the most extraordinarily descriptive organ music I have ever heard.

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I haven't played it or heard it live but I have listened to it - a number of times.

Each of the XIV 'Stations', of course, has a title and could be preceded or followed with the appropriate reading from the Bible. I think, in 'Messiaen-ic tradition', I would be tempted to have the readings after the music. There is a recording which precedes the whole work with the Plainsong 'Pange Lingua' and, at various points between the 'Stations' includes other Plainsong (Crucem tuam adoramus, Christus factus est, Popule meus, Stabat mater dolorosa). I quite like the idea of breaking up a performance, of this, with readings and with the relevant plainsong and, I suspect, when it was written in 1931, that was how it was performed..  I don't think I would be tempted to use polyphonic settings of the Plainsong texts!

The whole package - Dupre - Readings - Plainsong - would make a rather wonderful meditation for Good Friday evening and, in my reckoning would last just over the hour - perfect!

I wonder why it isn't heard in the UK!!

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The origin of the work was a recitation of Paul Claudel's "Chemin de la Croix" at the  Brussels Conservatory in February 1931, Dupré improvising between each of Claudel's fourteen prose poems. Dupré told me (in late 1958) that though the music was improvised he had prepared the registrations beforehand.

I believe the power of the piece comes from the musical meditations on Claudel's verses rather than any association one might make with the more familiar liturgy of the Stations of the Cross. Protestant and generally monoglot Britain might not fully appreciate this work as much as it does Dupré's other works.

Bruce Buchanan

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1 hour ago, Bruce Buchanan said:

The origin of the work was a recitation of Paul Claudel's "Chemin de la Croix at the  Brussels Conservatory in February 1931, Dupré improvising between each of Claudel's fourteen prose poems. Dupré told me (in late 1958) that though the music was improvised he had prepared the registrations beforehand.

 

'From the horses mouth' as it were! 

I did say that the pieces, which have the titles of the 'Stations', 'could' be preceded or followed by a Biblical reading - equally they could be interspersed by secular readings or by Claudel's 'Chemin de la Croix' which, of course, may lose some of it's power in translation.

As for 'Protestant and generally monoglot Britain' - no comment!

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I find the 11th Station - Jésus est attaché sur la Croix - to be the most extraordinary of the pieces - Dupré manages to convey the driving in of the nails with an almost unbearable physical intensity. I have Yves Castagnet’s  wonderful recording on the organ of Notre Dame de Paris. It would be marvellous if a British organist could establish a tradition of performing this work during Passiontide, rather as Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur has become established at Christmas. Westminster Cathedral perhaps? 

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On ‎10‎/‎01‎/‎2018 at 21:41, Zimbelstern said:

It would be marvellous if a British organist could establish a tradition of performing this work during Passiontide, rather as Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur has become established at Christmas. Westminster Cathedral perhaps? 

 

Those were my thoughts exactly, Zimblestern! 

................................. but there are other places other than Westminster Cathedral! 

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It had been performed several times at St Matthew’s, Northampton by Stephen Moore, the previous DoM, and I believe he played it at Llandaff Cathedral last year. 

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