Fantaisie in Eb Major from L'Organiste (FWV 41 No. 4) for Clarinet & Strings

Uploaded on Aug 31, 2018

César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck (1822 – 1890) was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life. He was born at Liège, in what is now Belgium (though at the time of his birth it was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands). He gave his first concerts there in 1834 and studied privately in Paris from 1835, where his teachers included Anton Reicha. After a brief return to Belgium, and a disastrous reception to an early oratorio Ruth, he moved to Paris, where he married and embarked on a career as teacher and organist. He gained a reputation as a formidable improviser, and travelled widely in France to demonstrate new instruments built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

In 1858 he became organist at Sainte-Clotilde, a position he retained for the rest of his life. He became professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1872; he took French nationality, a requirement of the appointment. His pupils included Vincent d'Indy, Ernest Chausson, Louis Vierne, Charles Tournemire, Guillaume Lekeu and Henri Duparc. After acquiring the professorship Franck wrote several pieces that have entered the standard classical repertoire, including symphonic, chamber, and keyboard works.

In 1889 the publisher, Enoch, commissioned Franck to compose 100 pieces for harmonium -- a portable reed organ patented by Debain in the early 1840s and improved by the Alexandres, father and son, through the mid-century. The harmonium's popularity for home music created a demand, though thrifty French publishers, hedging their bets, often advertised their offerings as being "for organ or harmonium." Franck's collection, published posthumously, is presented in this way, though the pieces, with their open textures and absence of pedal parts, are plainly for harmonium. In any case, between August 16 and September 20, 1890, Franck completed 63 pieces, of which 59 were published in the autumn of 1891 with the misleading title L'Organiste. Thus, they are contemporary with the Trois Chorals for organ and, though necessarily on a smaller scale, partake of their unflagging invention.

As Franck left it, the collection is divided into eight suites of seven pieces each (with three numbers of an incomplete suite outstanding), following an invariable plan of three numbers in the major, three in the minor, and a rhapsodic concluding movement which weaves together the themes of the preceding. While most are introduced by tempo and metronome indications ("Poco allegretto. Quarter note = 63"), occasional headings -- "Offertoire," "Prière," "Communion," "Offertoire funèbre," "Sortie" -- show that Franck intended these pieces primarily for liturgical use. But widely distributed selections from L'Organiste, offered as piano albums, demonstrate that they possess charm and interest quite independent of the nave. Indeed, Franck seems to have been thinking of the preludes of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier as he composed, for their melodic flair is complemented by a compositional resourcefulness which lends them substance far surpassing similar works by his friend Lefébure-Wély, or Chaminade.

The occasional use of folk song -- "Chant Béarnais," "Chant de la Creuse," "Noël Angevin," and the like -- throws Franck's straightforward yet always vivacious craft into high relief. And through them all we catch an aural glimpse of Franck the improviser. "For César Franck had, or rather was, the genius of improvisation, and no other modern organist, not excepting the most renowned executants, would bear the most distant comparison with him in this respect," Vincent d'Indy recalled in 1906, adding: "sometimes the master would invite other people, friends, amateurs, or foreign musicians, to visit him in the organ-loft. Thus it happened that on April 3, 1866, Franz Liszt, who had been his sole listener, left the church of Sainte-Clotilde lost in amazement, and evoking the name of J.S. Bach in an inevitable comparison."

Source: Allmusic ( ).

Although originally created for Pipe Organ, I created this Interpretation of the Fantaisie in Eb Major from L'Organiste (FWV 41 No. 4) for Clarinet & Strings (2 Violins, Viola & Cello).


Pages 12
Duration 10:11
Measures 301
Key signature 3 flats
Parts 5
Part names Clarinet, Violin(2), Viola, Cello
Privacy Everyone can see this score
License None (All rights reserved)
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