Audio sample: Klavierstuck, op. 62 no. 6
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Total time: 71 minutes 31 seconds
8 Klavierstücke, op. 62:
1. Allegretto (8’14”) 2. Allegro molto (3’41”) 3. Andante (4’25”) 4. Presto (2’54”) 5. Allegro appassionato (3’53”) 6. Andante (5’55”) 7. Allegretto (5’03”) 8. Vivace (3’45”)
Piano Sonata in F major, op. 44 no 3:
9. Allegro (10’44”) 10. Allegro (4’24”) 11. Andante – Più tranquillo (12’58”) 12. Allegro vivace (5’26”)
Our thanks to Paul and Andreas Feuchte for supplying scores of these rare works.
Eduard Franck was born in Silesia into a wealthy and cultured family that numbered Mendelssohn and Wagner among its acquaintances. He studied with Mendelssohn as a private student and then began a long career as a concert pianist and teacher. He was regarded as one of the leading pianists of his day and also as an outstanding teacher.
Franck was not forthcoming about his compositions, and failed to publish many of them until late in life. He was a perfectionist and would not release a work until he was absolutely satisfied that it met his standards. Yet what survives is extremely high in quality. Writing of his chamber music, Wilhelm Altmann said, “This excellent composer does not deserve the neglect with which he has been treated. He had a mastery of form and a lively imagination which is clearly reflected in the fine and attractive ideas one finds in his works.”
The Eight Piano Pieces op. 62 are among Franck’s last piano works and were first published posthumously in 1910 as a result of the efforts of Franck’s son Richard. They constitute a large-scale cycle varying greatly in mood and tempo, and with a notably more experimental approach than Franck’s earlier works.
The Piano Sonata in F major op 44 no 3 is the longest of Franck’s published piano sonatas, and although published in 1882 was very probably composed earlier than that date. The ‘Neue Zeitschrift für Musik” of 11 May 1883 reviewed the sonatas of op. 40 and op. 44 with the following words, “In all these works, a rich treasure of good German music is laid down. It is said of our time, that it brings forth no thorough Sonata, here we find a refutation of such a claim. Since Beethoven, only a few talented writers such as Ed. Franck have probably been called into existence. Almost all motives are created vividly before us and are well crafted. It is evident how versatile and diverse they are, especially from the fact that there is an underpinning of good counterpoint as if it were naturally present in the hands. Several of these [sonatas] deserve to be performed symphonically, because a dramatic element predominates in them. This Franck has always kept in mind, just as our classical piano masters treated their instruments, in so far as the piano is an orchestra.”