In the Baroque period, the term "pastoral" tied in to nativity music, as with the "Pastoral Symphony" from Handel's Messiah and a number of Italian concertos. One might expect that association to carry over to a later pastorale for organ, an instrument with religious connotations, but in his Op. 19 Pastorale Franck seems to have envisioned a secular nature scene more typical of the Romantic era, along the lines of Beethoven's "Pastoral" symphony. This composition was published as part of Franck's Six Pieces for Large Organ, but these works do not constitute a formal cycle; each item carries its own opus number and stands alone musically from the others. The Pastorale is dedicated to the great organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll and is a modest display of the symphonic sonorities of the organ Cavaillé-Coll installed at Franck's church, Ste. Clotilde. It takes the sturdy song form ABA, with the outer sections based on two themes. One is rippling yet peaceful, played at a moderate tempo, and the second is based on a series of warm, not at all imposing chords. The central section, introduced by a trumpet-like fanfare, slips into the minor mode and is dominated by quick, staccato chords that produce a sense of speed and mild tension, soothed by a more legato melody. The A section returns after a little fugato passage, now combining its two themes, which are tainted with a bit of the B section's sixteenth note agitation.
Notes by James Reel.
I played this quite a few times, and could never get it "exactly" like I wanted it. This take seemed OK, although there's a little "gap" for a page turn, as I played it half with music and half by memory...
This is SUCH a wonderful piece!!! :-)