Franck Prelude, Fugue and Variations Op 18

César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life. He was born in Liège, where he gave his first concerts in 1834. Franck’s improvisations after church services were major public attractions, and he set some of them down in the Six Pieces he completed between 1859 and 1862. These exploited the power and colors of the Cavaillé-Coll organs to the fullest and did much to establish the distinctively French school of symphonic organ music. The third of the Six Pieces is the Prelude, Fugue, and Variation, Op. 18, which was dedicated to Camille Saint-Saëns, himself an organist of considerable skill. Franck’s dedications do not imply portraits, but the balance and clarity of the Prelude, Fugue, and Variation do suggest the classical orientation of Saint-Saëns. The flowing B-minor Prelude has a gentle melancholy, opening almost like Bach’s “Liebster Jesu” prelude with three repetitions of an asymmetrical five-bar phrase. The Fugue has its own little prelude and clean textures, the polyphony by no means hard to follow. Rounding the three-part work is the Variation, basically a repeat of the Prelude with a more active accompaniment, fading to the light of B major. Several arrangers have scored this work for piano.
 VIDEO:Vladimir Viardo's breathtaking interpretation of César Franck's Prelude, Fugue and Variation Op.18. Originally written for organ, but transcribed for piano by Harold Bauer. 

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