This monumental work, the first of the Trois Pieces of 1878, seems to be one of the least "popular" of Franck's works.
I remember years ago that this was one of the "signature pieces" of a young American organist who rose rapidly to "stardom". I always used to think - "What an AWFUL piece" This performer, who will remain nameless was the only person I'd ever heard play it... ;-)
Like with the "Cantabile", I agonized with this one as well. I'd never REALLY learned it, and felt the time was right.
I tried it in every way I could think. I thought the "best" performace I did of it was on the Salisbury Willis, but, in the end, I decided to go "authentic" and return to Metz.
Since this is the NON-extended version of the organ, it's a little "small" to really bring off the grand climax. I tried to be as absolutely faithful to Franck's registrations, at least as far as this organ would permit.
Again, I'm not entirely satisfied with it, but I think it's OK.
At some point, I'll try to perfect it on Salisbury. It may be less "authentic" there, but it sounds glorious!