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Length: 13 mins

About this Piece

César Franck (1822–1890) had begun writing his three Chorals (chorales) for organ before suffering a minor traffic collision while riding in a horse-drawn buggy. Although the incident appeared to be superficial, Franck had hit his head and slowly began to feel adverse effects. Rightly suspecting his injury gave him only months to live, he finished the chorales but never saw them published. The third and final Choral in A minor presents the most adventurous exploration of chromaticism and dissonance of the set.

Running 16th-note arpeggios alternating with interrupting broken chords (first ascending, then descending) keep the initial texture indistinct by breaking away from establishing a tonal identity. A simple chorale falsely plays to expectations for several bars. Later, an Adagio middle section (a more developed chorale) uses an A-major key signature, but the densely chromatic harmonies (especially descending parallel tritones) break apart any anticipated musical stability.