714 New Booklet 8 Pages714 New Booklet 8 Pages

Maurice Duruflé: Requiem Op. 9, Suite Op. 5


    SKU: C00714 Category:

    Additional information


    , , , , ,


    EAN Code





    , , , ,


    Publication year


    Maurice Duruflé
    If one had to use just one adjective to characterise the work of Maurice Duruflé, timelessness would be the one that comes to mind. A child of the nascent twentieth century, the composer was born on 11th of January 1902 in Louviers, Eure (France). From his Norman roots and his childhood, we must remember his awakening to Gregorian chant and to the beauty of the sumptuous liturgy of the time, when he was a boarder at the Saint-Evode choir school of Rouen cathedral. These were the first emotions and the first musical dazzlements that would forever shape his future development. During his studies at the Paris Conservatoire, strong personalities and great names (among them Jean Gallon for harmony, Charles-Marie Widor and then Paul Dukas for composition) completed, through their influence, the constitution of a universe for the young musician that was never to change thereafter, through the combined effect of an unshakeable faith in its ferments and a fiercely cultivated indifference to the many jolts of the multiple aesthetic evolutions of his time. Maurice Duruflé was both a convinced liturgical organist and a concert organist, notably a pupil of Charles Tournemire and Louis Vierne before entering the class of Eugène Gigout at the Conservatoire, a composer shaped by the aesthetics of illustrious predecessors such as Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, or his Master Paul Dukas, becoming then himself a professor of harmony at the same Conservatoire. A meticulous mind, concerned with the smallest detail, extremely demanding of himself, constantly revising his works, he was unfortunately not very prolific, each page produced having to be considered as a pearl, even a masterpiece for some. There is an organ work – most of which was composed in a very short period of time -, a page of chamber music, two orchestral pages and a vocal work.
    After a Scherzo opus 2 conceived at the time of the Conservatoire (1926), and a great success with his Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur Veni Creator opus 4, awarded by the Amis de l’Orgue in their composition competition (1930), Maurice Duruflé continued his organ work and composed between 1932 and 1933 his Suite opus 5. It is a triptych consisting of a Prelude, a Sicilienne and a Toccata. The Prelude is an ample movement of symphonic character, evolving in a slow crescendo and then decrescendo, with each nuance level very scrupulously indicated as to registration, and which evolves in the sombre key of E flat minor. Shortly before the coda, a song appears and a solo reed is heard, freeing the work from the accumulated tension without, however, departing from a nostalgic climate, announcing the ‘tristamente’ requested for the very last bars, making the Prelude gradually fade into the unfathomable depths of the instrument. The Sicilienne is a totally chamber music piece, with a sensual Fauréian flavour. This is one of the many hallmarks of Duruflé’s aesthetic in his organ works, as he sought to infuse the instrument with a finesse and subtlety of writing and timbre that the great symphonic style (though illustrated by the preceding Prelude) too rarely bestows. The concluding Toccata is dazzling and of developed proportions. Built on two contrasting themes, it stands out from its illustrious predecessors in the French symphonic organ (Toccatas by Widor, Gigout, Boëllmann, Vierne …), and is more ambitious and accomplished. Surprisingly, it was nevertheless disowned by its author after its composition. The reasons sometimes given (themes that would be “bad” …) do not appear to be really convincing, and perhaps one explanation lies in the fact that Duruflé might have been frightened afterwards by the vehemence of the torrential flow of its subject matter (carried by a horizontal and vigorous writing style with a harmonic subtlety that is as rigorously maintained as in his less extroverted pages), something he no doubt thought was not like him, or should not be like him. Fortunately, he was never followed in his disavowal by the many performers who appropriated the work over several generations, starting with his wife, the great organ virtuoso Marie-Madeleine Duruflé-Chevalier, who worked on it and maintained it in secret from her husband!
    Maurice Duruflé’s vocal works are composed of few pages, which are nevertheless particularly striking. They are all linked to the spirit of the liturgy, but were created for very different reasons. They include his famous Requiem opus 9 (1947), 4 Motets on Gregorian themes opus 10 – a cappella – (1960), the Mass Cum Jubilo opus 11 (1966), and a late Notre Père opus 14 (1977). The last two works – the Mass can be seen as a worthy counterpart to the Requiem, though shorter – were inspired by a spirit of ‘resistance’ to the consequences of the conciliar reform as regards the role of music (and what music?) in the new liturgy begun in the early 1960s, seeking to prove that the values that had presided over the production of several centuries of liturgical compositions could still find a place in it. Such was the composer’s dismay when he discovered how far the new ‘directions’ were from his ideals, that the last years of his life were deeply shadowed. The Requiem had a very different genesis, and it will come as no surprise to learn that Gregorian chant played a key role in its creation, a world in which the composer had been immersed since childhood. During the war years, Duruflé had the idea of a new Suite for organ, totally different in spirit from the previous one, which would be built entirely on the Gregorian themes of the Messe des Défunts. The first piece sketched out for this future Suite was the Sanctus, followed shortly afterwards by the Lux aeterna (sung at communion). According to his own admission, the realization of an indissoluble link between the Gregorian melodies and the sung text led Duruflé to evolve his initial project towards the much more ambitious composition of a true Requiem, with all the parts: Introït, Kyrie, Offertorium, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei, Lux aeterna, Libera me, In Paradisum. The conception of the ensemble involved a large orchestra, organ, mixed choir, mezzo-soprano and baritone solo, in a version later called ‘concert’, which was premiered on 2 November 1947 at the Salle Gaveau in Paris, with radio broadcast. The work is a natural descendant of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, far from the grandiloquence of Verdi, and reveals a form of synthesis that was a priori improbable. On the one hand, the use of Gregorian chant gives the work a great deal of rhythmic flexibility, as well as a form of interiority due to the modal colour of the expected harmonies, with which Duruflé was familiar. But on the other hand, the composer’s other tendency is also particularly highlighted, that of the sensuality of “beautiful harmony” (subtly different from that underlying the Gregorian), as well as of the refinement of timbre and orchestral colour, both of which are heirs to the musical tradition mentioned above, into which Duruflé was most obviously, naturally and faithfully drawn. This unlikely combination made the work an instant success, and its author had the opportunity to record it in 1958 in a landmark recording. This same success led Maurice Duruflé to envisage two other versions of the work, in order to facilitate its performance and distribution: a reduction of the orchestral part for organ alone (still with choir and soloists), and an intermediate version for small ensemble (organ, string quintet, choir and soloists, with harp, trumpets and timpani ad libitum) published in 1961. The version for organ alone is a tour de force of adaptation, for Duruflé succeeded in reducing the essential orchestral part for an organ envisaged at a minimum (two manuals and pedalboard, with meticulously detailed but sober registrations), in order to facilitate its performance in different places and on different instruments with necessarily contrasting configurations. If a larger organ is available, the performers will have every advantage – as in the present recording – to make greater use of the sound palette, in order to evoke or recall certain climates of the concert version, without, however, renouncing the required interiority.
    Following the Requiem, Duruflé continued his exploration of Gregorian music through pages of a very different atmosphere (Motets opus 10), made up of intimacy and simplicity, yet not excluding harmonic sensuality.

    Vincent Crosnier
    December 2022


    Alessandro Perin received a Master’s Degree in Organ and Organ Composition from the Pollini Conservatory in Padua, Italy, where he studied with Rino Rizzato. He also graduated cum laude in Classical Philology at the University of Padua. He studied harpsichord with Roberto Loreggian and received a Master’s Degree in Harpsichord from the Dall’Abaco Conservatory in Verona. He studied at Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg with Prof. Wolfgang Zerer and Prof. Menno van Delft and received a Master’s Degree in Organ. Then he frequented an advanced course at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis with Prof. Andrea Marcon.
    Furthermore, the lessons he received from Italian organist Francesco Finotti were of fundamental importance for his musical growth. Since 2015 he is official organist at the S. Maria Assunta Cathedral in Padua. He became inspired by Jean Guillou, who had a profound influence on his style of playing and approach to the organ. In May 2017 he performed in a concert Guillou’s organ transcription of Stravinsky’s Trois mouvements de Pétrouchka in the presence of the great French organist. He recorded organ works of Gaetano Valeri (Tactus, 2018) and Marcel Dupré (Brilliant Classics, 2021).

    The Guillou Consort was founded by Daniele Tobio, who has been for years the impresario of Jean Guillou – a French organist, pianist, improviser and composer of international renown, who passed away in 2019.
    The Vocal and Instrumental Ensemble, willing to pay tribute in music to Maestro Guillou, takes its name from him, a multi-faceted and inimitable person.
    Thanks to the sensitivity and perseverance of some of Tobio's friends, the Ensemble quickly took form during the difficult time of pandemic in 2020.
    The professional profile of each member is valuable and considerable. The Ensemble consists of Italian singers and musicians coming from the entire Veneto Region, and committed to the music business as professionals and semi-professionals.
    Both preparation and direction of the group have been entrusted to Matteo Cesarotto, while the organ accompaniment to Alessandro Perin, principal organist of Padua Cathedral.
    The Guillou Consort's first objective was to play and sing paying homage to the COVID-19 victims, giving rise to the precious pages of Durufle’s Requiem.
    Harmony and sensitivity are what distinguish the Ensamble. From the very first performances in Padua and Villasanta (Monza – Italy), the group has won widespread acclaim, so much that Durufle’s Requiem was recorded in Villasanta and is to be released by Da Vinci Classics Publishing.
    With the waning of pandemic-related concerns, concert opportunities have multiplied for the Ensemble, which was also on several occasions conducted by Msgr. Valentino Miserachs, Master Emeritus of the Musical Chapel of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major based in Rome, by Msgr. Giuseppe Liberto, Master Emeritus of the Sistine Chapel Choir, and by Marcos Pavan, current director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.
    In August 2022, the Guillou Consort showed great versatility by performing Louis Vierne's Messe Solennelle at the church of Saint- Godard in Rouen – France – as well as in the same city at Saint-Ouen, presenting pieces from the Polyphonic a cappella repertoire.
    Lastly, between summer and autumn 2022, the Guillou Consort paid homage to the Italian composer Lorenzo Perosi.

    Matteo Cesarotto studied Choral Music and Choir Direction at the Conservatory of Music of Rovigo where he graduated with honours in 2014. In 2018 he graduated at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Padua and in 2019 with honours in Pre-Polyphony at the Conservatory of Music of Turin. He currently is a PhD student at the Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours, France, and he has also been teaching Music at the Concetto Marchesi High School in Padua.
    He took part as expert speaker in the field of Plainchant at national and international conferences. He has been a singer in many vocal ensembles specialized in performing Gregorian chant, including Nova Schola Gregoriana and Veneti cantores. As composer, he received several awards including the National Premio Accademia Musicale di Oderzo both in 2012 and 2013, and the Centenary of Pope Pius X in Treviso, Italy, in 2023.
    He has also been the choral director of the Guillou Consort Vocal Ensemble since its foundation.


    Maurice Duruflé,
    (b Louviers, 11 Jan 1902; d Paris, 16 June 1986). French composer and organist. He received his early musical education (1912–18) at a choir school in Rouen, where he deputised at the cathedral for his teacher Jules Haelling, a pupil of Guilmant. The choral plainsong tradition which thrived there became a profound influence. Maurice Emmanuel heard him play and arranged for him to go to Paris and meet Tournemire who prepared him for entry to the Conservatoire. Duruflé became his deputy at St Clothilde in 1920 but turned to Vierne as a teacher. The entirely contrasting musical temperaments and inspirations of these two composers can be traced in Duruflé's compositions. (He was later to transcribe a number of their recorded improvisations.) From Tournemire he inherited the mystical world of plainsong and the rich ambiguities of modal harmony. From Vierne came a more rigorous sense of structure and proportion and an awareness of the breadth of the organ's capabilities. In 1920 he entered the Conservatoire and achieved outstanding success, winning premier prix in five classes: organ with Gigout (1922), harmony with Jean Gallon (1924), fugue with Caussade (1924), accompaniment with Estyle (1926) and composition with Dukas (1928). In 1927 he became deputy to Vierne at Notre-Dame; Vierne spoke highly of his talents and reputedly expressed the hope that he would succeed him there. But it was to the post of organist at St Etienne-du-Mont that Duruflé was appointed in 1930 and he was to remain there for the rest of his life. In 1942 he deputised for Dupré as professor of the organ class at the Paris Conservatoire and from 1943 to 1970 he held the post of professor of harmony there, counting among his pupils Cochereau, Guillou and Marie-Claire Alain. As an organist he toured Europe, the USA and the USSR.