Louis Vierne (1870-1937) was a French organist and composer. His compositional style was very elegant and was well respecting of form. His style was also described as harmonically rich, but not as sentimental as his early teacher, Cesar Franck. Vierne composed mostly for his primary instrument, organ. He composed, however, a few short pieces for various instruments (mostly piano). His Deux Pieces pour alto was a collection of two works for viola and piano. This work was not played often, and was one of Vierne's unfamiliar works. It was even not included in some of his complete works lists.
Written in 1894 or 1895, this piece demontrated the rich sounds of the Romantic era. The most recognizable characteristic of this piece (focusing on the first movement, Le Soir) was the harmonies. The piece itself was so gorgeous, but it was hard to tell when it actually stayed in one key. There were many chromatic key relations (c# minor chord leading back to d minor), and there were many moments of chromatic emotional enhancement in the melody line. This definitely placed this piece in the latter part of the Romantic era.
I decided to compare this work to Cesar Franck's Violin Sonata (1886). There were definitely similarities in compositional style between Franck and Vierne. Both composers made use of the chromaticism in harmony and melody both. The lyricism and fluidity in the melody appeared in both works. It would be difficult to differentiate between Franck and Vierne (without the knowledge that Vierne hardly wrote pieces for anything except organ). Both of these pieces clearly belonged in the late Romantic era, but it was interesting to observe the closely related sounds and compositional styles.
I read through this piece the other day, and it was so gorgeous that I just had to talk about it. The chromaticism in the flowing piano part is incredibly romantic and this piece is such a pleasure to which to listen and play.
Franck, Cesar. "Cesar Franck - Violin Sonata" (video). Accessed April 19, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djlIRCdZGpA.
Smith, Rollin. "Vierne, Louis." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessd April 19, 2014. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.proxy.lib.utk.edu:90/subscriber/article/grove/music/29335?q=louis+vierne&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit.
Vierne, Louis. "Louis Vierne, Deux pieces pour alto op. 5 - I. Le Soir (1894)" (video). Accessed April 19, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUFK4MEDvU4.