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PRELUDE CHORALE and FUGUE
Op 21 by Cesar Franck



As I have stated elsewhere in these pages, the Franck Prelude Chorale and Fugue is one of the masterpieces for solo piano.  It is a work in three movements in which thematic material is used in every movement, culminating in a magnificent fugue combining the three principal themes at once.  This is complex and profound music requiring multiple listenings in order to grasp its structure and scope.  The Prelude Chorale and Fugue does have lovely moments, but as is the case with much of Franck's music, it is the way in which the music is woven and structured that results in its splendor.

I have found a large number of complete performances to share with you.  Most are, in their own ways, fine representations of Franck's creation, though I would like to single out the versions by Egon Petri, Alfred Cortot, Jorg Demus, Julius Katchen, and Sergio Fiorentino, and the eloquent poetry of that by Cherkassky, as being among my favorites.  They play the Franck Prelude Chorale and Fugue as though they were having an introspective dialogue with it, and it is revealing to them its secrets.

While I do not believe it is quite up to the standard of the others, I include the performance by Kuhlmann because it is interesting to see a pianist's hands have a go at this piece.  In the finale we see his hands as well, an interesting comparison.  Also included is a fine performance by an amateur pianist, Julien Kurtz.

In the course of pursuing my favorite activity, i have come across several performances of the Prelude Chorale and Fugue by women pianists that belong in my group of favorites: Jacqueline Eymar is one, Dinorah Varsi another.

Take the time, perhaps over multiple sittings, to listen to them all.  Come back to this page often and listen to it again and again.  The music will make itself known to you over time if you are not already familiar with it, and it will have been well worth the effort.  The gradually acquired ability to follow the thematic material as it progresses, individually and in concert, through a really fine performance of the Franck Prelude Chorale and Fugue will bring you great joy.

This page includes performances of the Prelude Chorale and Fugue by pianists born berfore 1925. This link will take you to another page with performances by pianists born after 1925.



ALFRED CORTOT
Franco-Swiss pianist (1877-1962)

Prélude
04:29 ➢ Chorale
09:07 ➢ Fugue

recorded in 1929




EGON PETRI
Dutch-German pianist (1881-1962)

recorded in 1957




BLANCHE SELVA
French pianist (1884-1942)

recorded in 1928




ARTUR RUBINSTEIN
Polish-American pianist (1887-1982)


Prélude



Chorale



Fugue




MIECZYSLAW HORSZOWSKI
Polish-American pianist (1892-1993)

recorded in 1986




GERMAINE THYSSENS-VALENTIN
Dutch pianist (1902-1987)

recorded in 1954


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SHURA CHERKASSKY
Russian-American pianist (1909-1995

recorded live in 1986




FRANCE ELLEGAARD
Danish pianist (1913-1987)

recorded in 1947


Prelude and Chorale



Fugue




JORGE BOLET
Cuban pianist (1914-1990)




SVIATOSLAV RICHTER
Soviet pianist (1915-1997)


Prélude




The following is another by Richter recorded in Budapest in 1983.  (I do not know the date of the above recording.)  To my ear the first of the two is representative of Richter's magic.  The Budapest recording is somehow lacking despite their similarity.  I have spent quite some time just listening to these two recordings by one of the all time great pianists, picking passages at random to compare.  It is a fascinating exercise and illustrates many things, not the least of which might be the effect of an off day on the performance of a genius.




GYORGI CZIFFRA
Hungarian-French pianist (1921-1994)


Prélude
04:45 ➢ Chorale
10:33 ➢ Fugue




JACQUELINE EYMAR
French pianist (1922-2008)

Prélude
05:28 ➢ Chorale
11:34 ➢ Fugue

recorded in the 1950s




SAMSON FRANÇOIS
French pianist (1924-1999)

recorded in 1955


Prélude
04:37
➢ Chorale
09:54
➢ Fugue




SAMSON FRANÇOIS
French pianist (1924-1999)

recorded in 1969


Prélude



Chorale and Fugue




LEONARD PENNARIO
American pianist (1924-2008)


Prélude and Chorale



Fugue










For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.



And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse



Follow these links to our main subject categories

Or go to the Prelude Chorale and Fugue2 page



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