The Organ

Playing the Organ Works of César Franck

Rollin Smith
Pendragon Press
ISBN 0 945193 79 3

This book is, in a sense, a companion to the author's earlier work on Franck but is more of 'a manual that explained how to play the music' rather than 'a dissertation on historical performance tradition'. The first chapter is an historical - chronological - biographical overview of Franck's life and career, and his relationship with the organ. This is followed by detailed analysis of all the significant organ music: the Six Pièces d' Orgue, the Trois Pièces and the Trois Chorals. The book is completed by a section on Charles Tournemire's Annotated Scores of Franck's organ works, a glossary and a 'Selected Franck Bibliography, 1983 - 1996'.

There is an introduction to each of the three sets of compositions, including a discussion of the relative merits of the various editions of the music, and material on performance practice. Each piece is then discussed in detail, with notes on manuscript sources, composition and publication dates and dedication, as well as first performances by the composer where applicable. The pieces are all discussed in considerable detail, with much valuable advice on authentic registration as well as fingering, phrasing, tempi and other key aspects of interpretation. This book is a must for all who wish to study Franck's organ music, and especially to those who wish to prepare for performance.

David Baker