Albert Paul Alain was born in 1880 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and lived and worked there for most of his life. He was organist of l’église de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a postiton he held until his death in 1971. He was the father of Jehan and Marie Claire.
I confess to not be much of a player of French music. I like it, but I'm told that I don't "have the hands" for it, and that probably seems to be true!
Still, I go through phases when I want to play it, and I probably am in one of these at the moment. It really is the sounds of the Metz organ that often awakens this desire. Despite the fact that this is an old sample set, without much "fancy accessories," to me, MDA really got this right.
The "15 Pièces sur des thèmes liturgiques" were composed for organ or harmonium, so, if you are going to have a go at these, you need to "figure out what notes you will play and those that you won't," since the organ "version" will be a lot different than the harmonium one.
All of these pieces are designed to serve a liturgical function, as they would all be played during the Mass. They aren't "concert works," although they are not short of beauty.
Prèlude is a flowing work, with a wonderful sense of movement to it. It has some extended pedal points, and you keep thinking that this would be a superb "buildup" to a really big movement, but the composer is true to his intent, and keeps the work of modest duration.
I think the pieces should "sound like improvisations," but there are still plenty of details to focus on, decided "how to adapt it on the fly" being the biggest one!
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Albert Alain at the famous Alain "house organ," and two of l’église de Saint-Germain-en-Laye - the exterior and the of the organ.