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Topic: Frank Prelude Chorale and Fugue  (Read 1123 times)

Offline nightwindsonata

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Frank Prelude Chorale and Fugue
on: February 20, 2022, 07:06:49 PM
Studying this piece in my piano lit class, considering it for my upcoming master's in performance. Has anyone played this piece? If so, what were some challenges you faced, your favorite sections, compositional things you liked, etc.?
1st-year Master's Program:
- Ravel Piano Concerto
- Liszt Ricordanza
- Liszt 3 Liebestraums
- Liszt 3 Sonnets

- Rhapsody in Blue
- Dante Sonata
- Schubert Sonata D.780
- Mozart Piano Quartet in Gm
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Offline lelle

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Re: Frank Prelude Chorale and Fugue
Reply #1 on: February 20, 2022, 10:14:17 PM
I love this piece! I learned it with the intention of performing it a while ago but the performance never happened.

I love (late) Franck's harmonic language. If I recall correctly he was inspired by/involved with a french music theory movement that advocated chromatic voice leading that could take you to some interesting places harmonically while still staying strictly tonal and it shows in his writing I think.

It sometimes shows in the writing that Franck had huge hands. He asks you to play rather large intervals, which you can of course roll/break, but it's still kind of funny giw he writes all these huge chords without comment.

The sections I had the most trouble with were the transitional buildup between the chorale and the fugue, and the climax of the fugue before the key signature changes to major. It took an unusually long time for me to memorize these parts, especially where my hands needed to go, because you are moving around quite a lot, and I would get in trouble if I had any kind of hesitation around where my hands needed to go next. Plus I think it's fair to say that that climax is just kinda difficult.

The arpeggio sections in the chorale are theoretically easy, but I discovered that if I was even a tiny bit worried about missing the top note of the arpeggio where you cross hands I would inevitably miss a lot of them :P So easy in theory and hard if you are worried about messing up I guess?

Oh and you have to listen to my favorite recording of the piece, it's just fabulous:

Offline frodo1

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Re: Franck Prelude Chorale and Fugue
Reply #2 on: February 21, 2022, 12:04:25 AM
I love this piece! I learned it with the intention of performing it a while ago but the performance never happened.

I love (late) Franck's harmonic language. If I recall correctly he was inspired by/involved with a french music theory movement that advocated chromatic voice leading that could take you to some interesting places harmonically while still staying strictly tonal and it shows in his writing I think.

It sometimes shows in the writing that Franck had huge hands. He asks you to play rather large intervals, which you can of course roll/break, but it's still kind of funny giw he writes all these huge chords without comment.

The sections I had the most trouble with were the transitional buildup between the chorale and the fugue, and the climax of the fugue before the key signature changes to major. It took an unusually long time for me to memorize these parts, especially where my hands needed to go, because you are moving around quite a lot, and I would get in trouble if I had any kind of hesitation around where my hands needed to go next. Plus I think it's fair to say that that climax is just kinda difficult.

The arpeggio sections in the chorale are theoretically easy, but I discovered that if I was even a tiny bit worried about missing the top note of the arpeggio where you cross hands I would inevitably miss a lot of them :P So easy in theory and hard if you are worried about messing up I guess?

Oh and you have to listen to my favorite recording of the piece, it's just fabulous:


Great recording that is new to me!  I also like Kissin’s recording on RCA label.  Franck’s extreme macabre intensity (with his chromatic harmonies) is second to none – and is the source of the darkest nightmares for me.  In addition to this piece, the first mvt of his symphony and his 2nd organ choral (Peter Hurford CD!) are also great examples of the macabre. 

Cyclical form is important in the symphony and this piano work as well as several other of his works. 

From the liner notes of my Kissin CD:

“After a whirling cadenza, the figuration and rhythm of the Prelude return, and eventually the chorale wafts magically into the treble.  The masterstroke comes with the further addition of the fugal subject beneath these two elements. This complex texture achieves a three-layer synthesis of the entire work, which ends in an unclouded B major.”

Thanks for sharing this Alfred Cortot recording!

Offline fftransform

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Re: Frank Prelude Chorale and Fugue
Reply #3 on: February 21, 2022, 06:30:50 AM
Haven't played it, though I've heard the voicing is hard from multiple people who have.

Just wanted to post this perf, really love the first two movements especially:

Offline krncandi

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Re: Frank Prelude Chorale and Fugue
Reply #4 on: August 25, 2022, 03:44:55 AM
I've learned this piece years ago and it's very difficult. Franck may be a romantic composer but he's not an easily likeable composer like Schubert, Chopin, Liszt etc. His music is very intellectual and complicated. To learn this piece you need very good technique as well as a mature musical sense due to the counterpoint, modulation and the difficult voicing. Your touch has to be graceful and elegant as well.  Have fun practicing :)

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Frank Prelude Chorale and Fugue
Reply #5 on: August 27, 2022, 10:31:44 PM
I've learned this piece years ago and it's very difficult. Franck may be a romantic composer but he's not an easily likeable composer like Schubert, Chopin, Liszt etc. His music is very intellectual and complicated. To learn this piece you need very good technique as well as a mature musical sense due to the counterpoint, modulation and the difficult voicing. Your touch has to be graceful and elegant as well.  Have fun practicing :)

I think the Chorale in particular has some more accessible parts. The arpeggio part is quite memorable.
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