Franck – Panis Angelicus

FP360 César Franck Panis Angelicus Two Flutes and Piano Grade 5 4′ 00″

Originally Belgian and later French, César Auguste Jean Guillaume Hubert Franck (1822-1890) was a child keyboard prodigy, though a negative reception of his youthful compositions led to a difficult period when he left the Paris Conservatoire.

However, he gradually won respect and he eventually became a teacher of organ and composition at the Conservatoire. Organ music apart, Franck’s most important compositions are the Symphony in D Minor, Symphonic Variations and the Violin Sonata in A, which also exists in a version for flute. His use of cyclic form, where a musical idea is to be heard in various guises through the different movements of a work, was significant and influential. Of his smaller pieces, it is undoubtedly Panis Angelicus which is the most well known. The title translates as “Bread of Angels” and the text is from Sacris Solemniis written by Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi. It is a motet and was originally scored for tenor solo with organ and string and accompaniment, though has also been reworked down the years for various vocal and instrumental combinations.

Apart from the the highly expressive melody itself, one of the great attractions of this piece is the canonic writing in the second verse which lends itself perfectly to duet performance. Naturally, this FlutePlay arrangement fully exploits the melodic interplay in the two flutes. In addition, there is some octave shifting and more florid figures to suit the now instrumental character. As for the accompaniment, there is an intro and outro as well as some textural devices to add interest and dynamic variety. A striking modulation from Ab to A major lifts and separates the two verses.

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