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|John Scott (organ)|
The Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain, Op 7, is a tribute to Duruflé’s friend and colleague and the brother of the distinguished organist Marie-Claire Alain, Jehan Alain, who would undoubtedly have become a leading French composer, and whose life was tragically snuffed at the outset of the Second World War in 1940. Duruflé arrived at the theme for this work in the same way that Ravel had done for his Minuet sur le nom d’Haydn: by extending the musical alphabet past H (the German equivalent for B natural) in the following way:
A — I
such that ALAIN comes out as ADAAF. In the final section of the Prélude, Duruflé quotes the theme of Alain’s most popular work, Litanies. The double fugue is a stunning example of contrapuntal writing. The two fugue subjects are expounded separately in compound time: the first is written in quavers, the second in semiquavers. The composer uses the first fugue subject in inversion and stretto; the tension is heightened by closing the distance between the subject entries of the stretto, and the whole ends in a blaze of glory.
from notes by William McVicker © 1990
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