Magazine article The American Organist

An Introduction to the Organ Music of Louis Vierne, Selected, Annotated, and Edited on Three Staves

Magazine article The American Organist

An Introduction to the Organ Music of Louis Vierne, Selected, Annotated, and Edited on Three Staves

Article excerpt

ORGAN MUSIC

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ORGAN MUSIC OF LOUIS VIERNE, SELECTED, ANNOTATED, AND EDITED ON THREE STAVES BY ROLLIN SMITH. Wayne Leupold Editions 600210. If ever a composer was "guided from above" in creating repertory for his instrument, it was Louis Vierne, whose organ works come in all keys and all sizes. The easiest and most approachable of these is the 24 Pieces en style libre, Op. 31 (1914), but in keeping with the fashion of the time, Vierne designed the publication as if it were not just for the organ but pour 1'orgue ou harmonium. In so doing, his intended divisions between the two hands were obscured by the apparent non-obbligato role of the pedal, and this has served as a source of confusion, and as an outright deterrent to many organists. What Rollin Smith has done in the present edition is to posit a new three-staved layout that serves to restore Vierne's intended division between the hands, and to clarify the role of the pedal, in contradistinction to the compromised character of the two-staved original. In some instances, this is easier said than done, since the sources are not always unambiguous. The twelve selections are the Préambule, Arabesque, lied, Légende, Berceuse, Prélude, Madrigal, Postlude, Carillon de Longpont, Cortège, Scherzetto, and Divertissement. These are rounded out with the inclusion of five additional selections: Verset Fugué sur In exitu Israël (1894), Communion, Op. 8, Élévation (Messe Basse, Op. 30), Adagio (Symphony III], and Carillon de Westminster (24 Pieces de fantaisie). The five additional selections are interspersed among the style libre pieces.

The collection as a whole is intended as a pedagogical progression from the less difficult to the more difficult. It is worth noting, however, that Smith's own assessments of the style libre selections in terms of their relative difficulty do not necessarily accord with those of the maitre, who taught these pieces often, and who reckoned the Cortége and the Madrigal among the easier numbers, and the Arabesque and the Légende among the more difficult. …

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