Franck gave the first performance of the Trois pièces
on 1 October 1878, in the Salle des Fêtes (Festival Hall) of the new Palais du Trocadéro, which had been built for the Universal Exhibition held in Paris that year. Written specifically for the occasion, which was probably the most important recital of Franck’s career, they are concert pieces with no specific religious intent. Two of Franck’s most devoted disciples couldn’t help ascribing a spiritual element to the exquisite Cantabile
, however, Vincent d’Indy noting that it is ‘the typical prayer of an artist who is also a true Christian’, and the ever-devout Tournemire eulogizing: ‘The soul’s unsatisfied desire—a saint’s inner supplication—incessant pleas—faith in divine mercy.’ Whatever the context, the Cantabile
was something of a hit for Franck.
from notes by Stephen Johnson © 2013