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Suite pour orgue, Op 5

1933; dedicated to Paul Dukas

The Suite pour orgue, Op 5, was completed in 1933 and published in 1934. Dedicated to Paul Dukas, the Prélude owes something to Dukas’s own Sonata for piano, written between 1899 and 1900. Duruflé’s Prélude is written in E flat minor and shares that same brooding key with the first movement of Dukas’s own Sonata.

Duruflé felt uneasy about having his works published lest they prove to be imperfect in some way. The composer grew to dislike the Toccata and he refused to perform it for the recordings he made with his wife, having expressed his dissatisfaction with it. He revised the score and added a new ending at a later date.

The Suite is a remarkable achievement: the opening Prélude maintains its brooding character by sustaining the dominant of E flat minor, giving rise to the sensation that something almost ominous awaits the listener. The Sicilienne is strongly Ravellian in character, whilst the demanding Toccata has been described as ‘one of the best examples—if not the best and most satisfying—of the many French movements of its kind’.

Duruflé visited London in 1938 at the request of the Organ Music Society to play his Suite at Christ Church, Woburn Square, and supplied the following note about the work:

The Prélude, which is sombre in character, is composed in the form of a diptych. A single theme, presented in three successive expositions, gradually accumulates the power of the organ. The second part consists of a long recitative, developing the first notes of the theme.
The Sicilienne is of classic construction, comprising three statements of the main theme and two episodes. The contrasting of timbres and a quest for colour have been the composer’s aim, as well as putting into relief the evocative character becoming to this style of piece.
The Toccata, which is in ternary form, begins with a short introduction, preparatory to the entry of the rhythmic and vigorous principal theme, which is given to the pedals. In the middle section, a second theme appears, and is later combined with the first. Finally, a return to the opening measures, and a brilliant conclusion with the second theme.

from notes by William McVicker © 1990


Duruflé, Vierne & Briggs: Midnight at St Etienne du Mont
Studio Master: SIGCD470Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Duruflé: Complete organ works
Studio Master: KGS0053-DDownload onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Duruflé: The Complete Organ Music
CDH55475Archive Service
Organ Dreams, Vol. 4 - St Nikolai, Halmstad, Sweden
CDA67436Archive Service
Organ Fireworks, Vol. 10
CDA67458Last few CD copies remaining


Movement 1: Prélude
Track 4 on CDH55475 [8'57] Archive Service
Track 5 on SIGCD470 [8'05] Download only
Track 11 on KGS0053-D [8'44] Download only
Movement 2: Sicilienne
Track 4 on CDA67436 [6'03] Archive Service
Track 5 on CDH55475 [6'35] Archive Service
Track 6 on SIGCD470 [6'03] Download only
Track 12 on KGS0053-D [6'40] Download only
Movement 3: Toccata
Track 11 on CDA67458 [8'41] Last few CD copies remaining
Track 6 on CDH55475 [8'14] Archive Service
Track 7 on SIGCD470 [7'16] Download only
Track 13 on KGS0053-D [8'43] Download only

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