Henry Fairs

Duruflé: Organ Music (Complete)

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Even though Maurice Duruflé's output was small for a composer of his stature and influence, it was due to his extreme perfectionism that he merely produced eight original works for organ. Not counting his virtuosic transcriptions of improvisations by his teachers, Louis Vierne and Charles Tournemire, all of Duruflé's organ music easily fits on one CD, as this 2007 Naxos release demonstrates. Best known of all his compositions is the Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain, Op. 7, which Duruflé wrote in 1942 in memory of his friend and fellow composer, Jehan Alain, who was killed early in World War II and whose celebrated Litanies are quoted in this piece. Less famous but of equal importance and depth, and quite similar in style and feeling, the Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du "Veni Creator," Op. 4, and the Suite, Op. 5, are the other major organ works in Duruflé's catalog, supplemented by several short miniatures which are charming but of less significance. Of these, the poignant Méditations, Op. posth., was composed in 1964 but only published in 2002, and has been recorded just twice previously; organist Henry Fairs' recording, along with Friedhelm Flamme's album on CPO, is one of only two truly complete recordings of Duruflé's organ oeuvre. Fairs, a British recitalist familiar with organs across Europe, plays the Cavaillé-Coll grand organ at the Church of Notre Dame d'Auteuil in Paris, which offers a similar registration to instruments the composer played, and provides the wide range of sonorities necessary in this masterfully crafted music. Naxos provides clear and vibrant sound at floor level, and aside from the organ's own action, there are few distracting noises in this resonant church setting.

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