Magazine article The American Organist

The Complete Organ Works of Henri Mulet

Magazine article The American Organist

The Complete Organ Works of Henri Mulet

Article excerpt

THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS OF HENRI MULET. Paul Derretí, organist. Organ of Notre-Dame de France, Leicester Place, London, England (IV/46 J.W. Walker & Sons, 1955, incorporating elements of 1865 Cavaillé-Coll; refurbished by B.C. Shepherd & Son, 1986/7). Priory Records PRCD 5041 (2 CDs). Available at Priory.org.uk. Henri Mulet (1878-1967) was one of the more obscure composers of early 20th-century France. Remembered primarily for his Byzantine Sketches (1920) and Carillon-Sortie (1911), he adhered to a conservative compositional style. His colleague Charles Tournemire wrote of him: "Henri Mulet, a strange and great artist, captive of a mystic ideal. A calm improviser, sometimes lively, sometimes religious. An artist worthy of the great epoch of the Masters of the Middle Ages, which, in turn, in his case, would not exclude an understanding of present-day art. A mysterious thinker."

The majority of Mulet's compositions are predominantly quiet, reflective, and atmospheric, rarely rising above a mezzoforte dynamic level. For example, of the ten Byzantine Sketches (recorded on CD 1), only the Procession and Tu es petra (which has become a staple in the literature as a showpiece) require technical virtuosity and the full resources of the instrument. The remaining eight pieces are largely inspired by the Parisian church Sacré-Coeur (where Mulet's father had been choirmaster), being musical depictions of the nave, stainedglass windows, rose window, mortuary chapel, and bell tower. Others reflect liturgical life: procession, funeral chant, a Noël, and In Paradisum. …

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