Score and Parts. 12+8+8+4+4 pp.
$19.95, Presser Order number 494-02967 (EICM-48)
I first heard this work in 1961, played on the organ of the Valparaiso Cathedral, Indiana, by the blind organist André Marshal. I was, to put it mildly, thunderstruck. I was seating in the middle of the Cathedral, where the organist himself was not visible to me. The emotional impact of this music was so powerful on that particular occasion, that I had a great difficulty in controlling my tears. A couple of years later, I heard André Marshal playing the same piece in a church in Lausanne, Switzerland. This time I was allowed to sit right next to the organ’s console and watch the organist playing this King of Instruments. The added visual aspect must have tempered my reaction this time, but the Prélude, Fugue et Variation Op. 18 by César Franck remained with me for all times. Several years later, living in New York City, my old friend from Israel Edgard Dana and I, decided to form a duo ensemble. I immediately sat down to arrange a few little known masterpieces for the two guitars medium, and the Franck Op. 18 was foremost on my mind. The Dana-Ophee guitar duo never actually materialized. Edgard was obliged to return to Israel and our plans never came to fruition.
César Franck’s Prélude, Fugue et Variation was first published in Paris circa 1869 by M.me Mayens-Couvreur, as N° 3 in a collection of 6 organ pieces. The original title page states that the work was also arranged by the composer for piano and organ-harmonium. That arrangement was republished in 1881 by A. Durand & Fils (pl. no. D&S C.ie 2686) which was the source I used back in the mid 1970s to make my two guitar arrangement and the present arrangement for guitar quartet. The Durand edition also lists arrangements of the work for Violin Harmonium and Piano, and for piano 4-hands. The main difference between the original organ and the Organ Harmonium and piano arrangement, are the arpeggiated friorituras in the Lento section included in the arrangement but not in the original. In this edition these runs are marked as ad libitum, meaning it is up to the performers to play them or not, and if played, at what tempo.
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