Franck’s original registration is quite specific in colour, particularly his love of reeds with their piercing timbre. It is interesting that at the moments of greatest melodic and harmonic sweetness in all three Chorales Franck asks for the most sour stops to be drawn. In the third Chorale, in the glorious central section, the left hand and pedals are gently painting a wash of harmonic colour with flutes and bourdon, whilst the ‘endless melody’ on the Swell manual has to be etched with the acid of the combined oboe and trumpet stops. However, this is one of the peculiarities of Franck’s style—the non troppo dolce that appears quite often in the piano works—with its poignant, emotional tug between the austere and the sentimental: the ice-cold marble altar, but the burning candles and the sweet incense.
from notes by Stephen Hough © 1997
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