Music for Pentecost 6 — Sunday July 17 2022

Trois élévations, Op. 32Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)

Élévation I:

Élévation II:

Élévation III:

Marcel Dupré was the foremost French organ virtuoso of his time and heir to the great tradition of French Romantic organ playing and composing. He traveled widely as a concert artist in North America during the 1920s and 30s and was a hugely influential teacher at the Paris Conservatoire between 1926 and 1956. His music for his instrument, the organ, is brilliant, evocative and is virtuoso writing of the highest order.

This Sunday’s prelude in church, the three short and simple liturgical pieces that make up Dupré’s Trois élévations, Op. 32, date from 1935. The name of this set of pieces comes from its ostensible liturgical function in the French organ mass that came into use during the Baroque era, with organ music playing throughout – part of the so-called alternatim practice. French Baroque composers wrote collections of these pieces, played during the elevation of the sacrament.

The first of Dupré’s set here, in E major, is for flutes, with slow chords in the right hand accompanied by the syncopated bell-like repetitions of a dominant pedal in the left —an effect that was to be developed in greater detail in his setting of the Angélus the following year. The second Élévation in D minor presents a modal melody in canon between right and left hands. In the third, in G major, a pedal flute plays the melodic line, accompanied by a characteristic procession of mysterious, constantly shifting harmonies.

Gerald Harder