Titular organist of Notre-Dame de Paris from 1900 until his death in 1937, and master of its superb 1867 Cavaillé-Coll instrument, Louis Vierne confided to it his closest thoughts. Following the eldritch splendors of the Third Symphony for organ (1911), the Pièces en style libre, composed in 1913, work a vein of intimate fantasy often laced with Vierne's penchant for the grotesque and bizarre. Specified as suitable for performance on a harmonium, the composer's registrations nevertheless indicate a variety of coloristic effects which come off adequately only on large instruments, while the grandeurs of several demonstrative numbers -- e.g., the Cortège, or the Carillon -- exceed the harmonium's modest capacity. The collection runs the gamut of major and minor keys in order -- C major, C minor, D flat major, etc. -- in a salute to Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.
"Livre II" dates from 1914, and "Carillon sur la sonnerie du Carillon de la chapelle du Château de Longpont (Aisne)" is the 21st work in the set.
Vierne composed three highly popular bell-founded pieces of which this is the first.
The Carillon de Westminster and Les cloches de Hinckley form part of the Pièces de
Fantaisie. All use an ostinato to telling effect, but in neither of the later pieces is the
‘bell’ figuration as pervasive as here. At no point does it stop It’s quite amazing just how much variety Vierne manages to achieve in his treatment of what is, on the face of it, a rather unpromising tune!
The piece is dedicated to Vierne’s gifted brother, René, himself a talented organist
and composer who was to be killed in the war in 1918.
I dedicate this to our member, Alexis, who had requested a MIDI of an earlier upload I had done.
The MIDI is attached below, as well as the score, and some varied photos of Louis Vierne, including one of his grave.
I also attached an excellent English pdf that goes in to great and interesting details about the entire "24 Pièces en style libre."