Dupré’s Trois Esquisses
, Op 41, were composed in 1945, but only the second and third were published in the following year as ‘Deux Esquisses’. The bound manuscript containing all three was discovered in 1975, in which year the first was published separately. All three were inscribed to Madame Stéphane Bornemann, the wife of Dupré’s publisher. In an introduction to the first Esquisse
, Rolande Falcinelli, Dupré’s closest pupil, wrote: ‘Reading, then a closer analysis of the first ‘Sketch’ confirms that the three pieces were conceived as a homogeneous though free group, balancing and complementing each other. Certainly each panel of this triptych has its own entity, yet, since the ‘repeated notes’ sketch (published as No 1) and ‘octaves’ (No 2) are rarely separated, it would be desirable to add to them this ‘sister’, unknown for twenty-seven years … indeed, the tormented and troubled character of the newcomer provides a contrast to the crystalline traceries of what used to be the ‘first’; whilst the colossal breadth of the final piece concludes in the fireworks of its diabolical toccata a true suite of transcendental studies.’
The true first Esquisse unfolds with chromatic unease in a nominal C major, the key in which, eventually, it quietly ends. The registration is for various groupings of foundational stops in the outer andante portions of this tripartite piece, with the tutti storming away in the central agitato section. The true second Esquisse, published as No 1, is a vivace exercise in staccato repeated notes. Here Dupré’s chromatic E minor, informed by conjunct sequences of sixths, fifths and thirds, is enhanced by the delicacy of the specified registration, particularly the combination of Bourdon and Tierce. The true third Esquisse, published as No 2, and marked deciso, is a daunting and relentless octave study in B flat minor for the tutti.
from notes by Felix Aprahamian © 1998