Dedicated to the memory of Louis Vierne (1870-1937), this work for 2 hands is written in the same 6-part form that Vierne taught to his students for improvising on a single free theme.
Depending upon the nature of the theme, Vierne sometimes reduced the improvisation to a fewer number of parts, but this was the general 6-part plan:
1. 1st Exposition of theme -- typically 12-16 bars in home key in 3- or 4-voice texture; phrases can be regular or a mix of regular and irregular length; ends in a pause.
2. Bridge (Fr. "pont")-- 4-12 bars in 3-voice texture modulating to a different key based on the first few notes of the theme, right side-up or inverted; typically moves to the relative or dominant key, sometimes the mediant; ends in a pause.
3. 2nd Exposition of theme -- restatement of the theme in the relative, dominant, or mediant key, same number of bars with harmonized differently, texture contrasting with 1st exposition (3 vs. 4); theme may be inverted; ends in a pause.
4. Development -- based upon a motif within the theme; modulation through several keys; usually 20+ bars in length; mix of textures; ends in a pause.
5. Preparation for Reentry -- 4-6 bars modulating back to home key; serves as transition to connect the development with the reentry; usually 4-voice texture; ends in a pause.
6. Reentry of theme -- harmonized chromatically in 4 voices; string celeste tone used when the music is quiet; ends in a short coda.
This theme of this Prelude suggests a quiet work scored for light foundation stops with string celeste tone reserved for the final entry and coda. The irregular phrase lengths, triplet rhythms within a constant duple meter (3 against 4), inverting the theme, preference for the mediant key in the 2nd entry, frequent and distant modulations to remote keys far away on the Circle during development, sudden modulation to the home key during preparation for the reentry, final reentry of the theme employing a 2-part canon at the octave, chromatic inflections in the coda -- ALL of these characteristics are very reminiscent of Vierne's methods and vocabulary.
Louis Vierne left this world having touched the hearts and lives of countless individuals, musicians and non-musicians alike. Within his compositional output we find that he was more than touched by the wings of genius, and masterpieces are plentiful. This trifling Andantino is a mere souvenir honoring the life and work of this great French master as a virtuoso performer, an inspired composer, a brilliant improvisor, and a mentor and friend to many.