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The Way of the Cross

Dupré's magnificent depictions of the 14 stations of the cross, and his variations on a noel are heard here played by Dr. Robin Batterham on the 4/68 Rieger organ in The Scots' Church Melbourne.

Le Chemin de la Croix, Op 29 (The Stations of the Cross) is a popular form of devotion in the Roman Catholic and some Anglican churches. It consists of meditations on fourteen pictures or carvings recalling the passion of Christ from his condemnation to death by Pilate and the sorrow of his Mother to his death on the cross and burial.

Le Chemin de la Croix (The Way of the Cross) enjoyed immediate recognition. It originated at a Brussels concert in February 1931 when Dupré improvised commentaries following the reading of fourteen verses of a poem by Paul Claudel (1868-1955). A plan for each movement, the registration and the use of melodic and rhythmic ideas had been worked out in advance. He had found the double leap of two fourths for the Cross in Bach, Handel and Schütz; the four notes rising conjunctly for Redemption occur in Handel's Messiah and Bach's St John Passion, as well as in Franck's Beatitudes and Wagner's Parsifal.

The audience reaction was so favourable that Dupré decided to write the work down, trying to evoke the same atmosphere. The written version was first performed in Paris in March 1932. Variations on a Noel, Op 20 One of his more frequently performed and recorded works, the Variations on a Noel was composed in 1922 while Dupré was touring the United States.

The theme is a mediaeval French Christmas carol Noël nouvelet, a tune sometimes used with the Easter text "Now the green blade riseth". After the theme, ten variations follow showing many varieties and combinations of organ tone. French organists have traditionally had an affinity for elaborating Christmas melodies, but unlike his predecessors, Dupré is not content with mere melodic modifications. His approach is a subtle one, expanding not only the melody but also the rhythm and harmonies.

Variations three and eight are canons; the sixth is a trio, in double canon. Only in the final variations does he draw on the full resources of the organ. Starting with a lively fugato, showing the theme both in diminution and augmentation, and at one point in three speeds at once, a powerful cadenza leads to a concluding toccata with the theme in the pedals.

from the program notes compiled by Michael Edgeloe


Robin Batterham

Robin Batterham is assistant organist at Scots Church Melbourne where his activities include recitals, service playing, choir accompaniment and continuo work. He is also one of the country's leading scientists and engineers. He served as Chief Scientist of Australia from 1999 to 2005.

Audio previews

Track Listing

    Le Chemin de la Croix, Op 29 Marcel Dupré

  1. Station I : Jesus s condemned to death
  2. Station II : Jesus carries His Cross
  3. Station III : Jesus falls for the first time
  4. Station IV : Jesus meets His Mother
  5. Station V : Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross
  6. Station VI : Jesus and Veronica
  7. Station VII : Jesus falls for the second time
  8. Station VIII : Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem
  9. Station IX : Jesus falls for the third time
  10. Station X : Jesus is stripped of his garments
  11. Station XI : Jesus is nailed to the Cross
  12. Station XII : Jesus dies upon the Cross
  13. Station XIII : The body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross and laid in Mary's bosom
  14. Station XIV : The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb
  15. Variations Sur un Noël, Op 20 Marcel Dupré

  16. Theme − Moderato
  17. Variation I − Larghetto
  18. Variation II − Poco animato
  19. Variation III − Canon à l'octave
  20. Variation IV − Vif
  21. Variation V − Vivace
  22. Variation VI − Canon à la quarte et à la quiate
  23. Variation VII − Vivace
  24. Variation VIII − Can à la seconde
  25. Variation IX − Animé
  26. Variation X − Fugato



Where to buy

The Way of the Cross is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
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The Way of the Cross is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

List price
$25.00 AUD
Benjamin Thomas
Rhys Boak
Vaughan McAlley
Martin Wright
Release date
© 2009 Move Records
℗ 2009 Move Records
Classical, Organ
Catalogue number
MD 3332
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574333220