How did the recording come about, and what came first, the opportunity to play the St Etienne organ or the idea for a programme based around Duruflé?
Despite having studied with Marie Claire Alain in Paris and recorded the complete works of Charles-Marie Widor for Signum Records on original Cavaille-Coll instruments in France, St Etienne-Du Mont, Paris, remained a place of mystical intrigue to me. The church and organ is of course synonymous with Durufle, but the church’s inner architecture is breathtaking, being a mixture of renaissance and gothic styles with the only surviving rood screen in Paris. The beauty and spirituality of the interior of the church has a potent devotional atmosphere which, to me at least, reveals how Duruflé’s compositional style (liturgically at any rate) reached such levels of ethereal inspiration.
I have long kept in touch with Jean-Pierre Leguay (a former titulaire organist of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris) and his wife, Annie, and they were very kind and helpful in making connections with the co-titulaire of St Etienne, Vincent Warnier. Happily, Vincent was very aware of my Widor recordings from Paris, Lyon and Toulouse and so a connection was formed first, with the consideration of the programme to follow.