Cesar Franck : Prelude, Fugue et Variation Op18 (Arranged by Raymond Burley)
Cesar Franck: Arr. for guitar quartet by Raymond Burley
Les Productions D’Oz: Score and separate parts (20, 4, 7, 7, and 4 pages respectively)
This work by famous keyboardist Cesar Franck, was originally written for the organ, and then subsequently arranged by him for harmonium and piano, and then for piano and many different ensembles by other musicians since it saw the light of day in the early 1820s.So, an arrangement for a quartet of guitars might seem an obvious step! As the music is largely a series of single lines for a great majority of the time, it works ideally on the guitars, as with one or two small exceptions, nothing is very keyboard like in actual writing.
The opening Prelude, an Andantino, is set in Gm, with the fourth guitar having a dropped 6th to D. The first guitar takes most of the initial melodic interest and is immediately using the entire fingerboard, although the 2nd and 3rd guitars quickly get involved in the harmonic interplay, leaving only the 4th part for an easier single bass note part. At the very end, a Lento appears with essentially long notes and a number of pauses, bringing the emotional movement to a quiet reflective close on the dominant.
The Fugue that follows is also in Gm, and is a 3 / 4 movement, marked Allegretto ma non troppo, that as with so many Fugues, starts off with often longer value notes before gathering momentum and turning often into quavers. All four players do get a chance at the fugue theme, and again, the full range of the fingerboard is in use throughout, but no chords, just single notes throughout.
The final Variation is based on the opening Andantino and is set in the home key as a 9/8 with a semi – quaver flow constant throughout it. As such this tends to be the most difficult technically for the first 3 players, leaving again the 4th guitarist to play the ground bass line.
This is a lovely , almost pastoral sounding work that, occurring as it does , in numerous arrangements , can often sound quite different , depending on which you are listening to. The quartet of guitars that Ray Burley has arranged it for here, works really well, and nothing is very difficult, although you have to be decent players to really get a good grip of this fine piece. Definitely this is a work to consider for a competent quartet, and as such I can recommend any interested players, giving it a try.