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Free Fantasia on 'O Zion, haste' and 'How firm a foundation'


The American composer William Bolcom has impeccable classical credentials (he studied with both Milhaud and Messiaen), but his musical sympathies extend across many of the conventional boundaries; he is an expert exponent of ragtime piano, and as accompanist to his wife, the cabaret singer Joan Morris, he has performed and recorded an encyclopaedic variety of American popular music. This Fantasia (1984) comes from a set of Gospel Preludes for organ, which explore these boundaries in music that is technically challenging, rhythmically complex, and bursting with life and colour. It falls into two clearly defined sections, of strongly contrasted musical character, suggesting a gradual progression out of the darkness into the light. The first part is dissonant in harmony and improvisatory in style, ranging through a wide spectrum of colours and dynamics, from aggressive full chords and rapid flourishes to passages of brooding mystery. At times melodic phrases clearly emerge from the surrounding chaos—these come from the hymn ‘O Zion haste’. After a while the mood begins to change, the rhythm becomes more regular, and the pedals introduce the tune of the second hymn, ‘How firm a foundation’ accompanied by bluesy gospel harmonies, it builds in an irresistible crescendo to a resounding climax.

from notes by David Gammie © 2006


Royal Albert Hall Organ Restored
Studio Master: SIGCD084Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 8 on SIGCD084 [7'47] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD084 track 8

Recording date
25 March 2006
Recording venue
Royal Albert Hall, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch & Andrew Mellor
Hyperion usage
  1. Royal Albert Hall Organ Restored (SIGCD084)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: July 2006
    Download only
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