Prélude at 0:00
Fugue at 3:49
Variation at 6:42
Beginning of prelude at Franck's autograph tempo at 9:48
Beginning of fugue at Franck's autograph tempo at 10:45
Beginning of variation at Franck's autopgraph tempo at 11:46
Prelude, fugue et variation op. 18 is dedicated to Saint-Saens who, it seems, didn't like it . Never mind, it is is probably among the most singing organ pieces ever written.
There is a problem with the tempo of this piece and, in fact, for all Franck's Six Pieces. This because, towards the end of the 20th century, a musicologist discovered an exemplary of the original edition of the Six Pieces with noted tempi recognized as written by Franck's hand. These autograph tempi are roughly 1,5 to 2 times faster that what we are used to hear. A letter from Franck to an American organist, written in 1887, gives exactly the same surprising tempo values. These ultra-fast tempi remain quite a mystery to my ears.....
If you are interested by the subjet, you can find joined a pdf with :
- the list of Frank's autograph tempi
- a collection of measured tempi used by a dozen of top organists when they recorded Prélude, fugue et variation.
- a scan of the end of the 1887 letter