As his international eminence grew, Dupré increasingly addressed serious subject matter, as in the larges-cale devotional works Le Chemin de la Croix
(1932) and Offrande à la Vierge
(1944). Of a more personal, but no less profound character is the ‘symphonic poem’ Evocation
. Dupré evokes both his father Albert and the famous Cavaillé-Coll organ of St-Ouen, Rouen, at which Dupré père presided for twenty-eight years, and on which Dupré fils gave the first performance on 26 October 1941, ten months after his father’s death. It has been suggested that the overwhelming climax of the first movement, a pounding tutti suggestive of Shostakovich or Prokofiev which subsides into a sinister ‘marching’ codal motif, and which is recapitulated in triumphant terms at the end of the third movement, actually evokes the violent seizure of France by the German army. Certainly there is little in the outer movements that, without knowing the composer’s intentions, one would hear as an affectionate tribute from son to father; and it is perhaps significant that Dupré had been prevented from attending his father’s funeral by Nazi-imposed border controls. The central Adagio con tenerezza is, unlike the surrounding movements, intimate and fond; but the constant avoidance of cadences is unsettling, as if Dupré is wilfully confusing and obfuscating what should be simple and clear. Only with the blazing peroration of the third movement does Evocation
firmly achieve a cadence: the final C major chords feel hard-earned, and all the more triumphant for it.
from notes by Robert Quinney © 2006