Vincent Dubois (organ)

Winthrop Hall


reviewed by Neville Cohn


At a concert jointly sponsored by Alliance Francaise de Perth and The Australian Goethe Society, visiting French musician Vincent Dubois presented one of the most accomplished organ recitals the city has heard in some time.

Dubois, who played a formidably taxing program entirely from memory, a rare feat insofar as concert organists are concerned, left one in no doubt that he had come to Winthrop Hall with something significant to say in musical terms.

Dubois’ remarkable physical control of the medium was not immediately apparent in Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B minor which for some of the time sounded effortful and bordered on the prosaic. But in Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on B.A.C.H., Dubois stormed Olympus in a dazzling display of virtuosity. Stylistically beyond reproach and clearly up to the excruciatingly difficult demands of the music, Dubois, like some organistic Zeus, hurled great blocks of sound into the hall while maintaining absolute control of finger and foot.

I particularly admired the controlled skill he brought to the building of climaxes and the positive relish with which he negotiated the extravagant chromaticisms of the writing. This was playing in the grandest of grand manners. What a shame that the very real pleasure of listening to such mastery was lessened by thoughtless latecomers whose noisy footsteps were a desecration of Dubois’ artistry.

In Durufle’s Prelude e fugue sur le nom d’A.L.A.I.N., brought to his playing a lucidity and cogency that were beyond reproach. I especially admired the rapidity, fluency and accuracy that made Dubois’ account of the Prelude memorable.

Organists are now virtually the only classical stronghold of the almost forgotten art of improvisation. It would have been worth attending this recital if only to experience Duboi’s phenomenal gifts in this direction. Looking for mere seconds at a theme provided by Anthony Maydwell, Dubois brought this listener to the edge of his seat with the brilliance of his extemporisation. In the nature of things, critics seldom have recourse to the word superb with tis connotations of exalted splendour – but it was entirely appropriate in this context.

Copyright 2004 Neville Cohn

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