Harbach Vol. 3: Organ Music

Record Label: MSR Classics
Release Date: October 2008

Harbach Vol. III MSR 1254 Toccatas, Flourishes and Fugues – A Celebration of Hymns
Barbara Harbach, organ, Aeolian-Skinner Organ, Christ Church Cathedral, St Louis, Missouri Chester – Let Tyrants Shake Their Iron Rods, and Slav’ry Clank Her Galling Chains

In Babilone – There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy
Azmon – Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing or Awake
O Waly Waly – Although I Speak with Angel’s Tongue
Chorale Fantasy on Ein Feste Burg – A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Reverie on Vater unser – Our Father Who Art in Heaven
Finale on Ein Feste Burg – A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Kingsfold – I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say, Come Unto Me and Rest
Sufferer – They Crucified My Lord
Land of Rest – How Long, O God
American spiritual – Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Comin’ for to Carry Me Home
Holy Manna – All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly
Gloria (B. Harbach), original 21st Century melody
Besançon – People, Look East
Antioch – Joy to the World
Forest Green – As Saints of Old
Darwall’s 148th – Before You, Lord, We Bow
Llangloffan – Bless Now, O God, the Journey
African American Spiritual – Wade in the Water
Ar Hyd Y Nos – Go, My Children, with My Blessing
Hermas – On Our Way Rejoicing
The Morning Trumpet – Oh, When Shall I see Jesus, and Reign with Him Above?
Christ lag in Todesbanden – Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands
Erre Gyere – traditional Hungarian melody


“Harbach has given something back to the tunes she’s worked with a lot of her life… This CD presents Harbach’s arrangements for organ of mostly well-known hymns, as well as, in one case, an original. I suspect that many of them came from her church improvisations, which she then polished. She selects material eclectically, with a special fondness for shape-note hymns and African-American spirituals, and she displays great variety in her treatments… Harbach excels in the shape-note hymns… The organ, the Aeolian-Skinner at St. Louis’s Christ Church Cathedral, is very well recorded indeed. I enjoyed this disc quite a bit, especially since I knew almost every melody, but I don’t think that’s a requirement. Spend some time with some of the best tunes in the world.”
Steve Schwartz, ClassicalNet [October 2011]

“cast in a well-conceived and executed neoclassical style with a conservatively modern harmonic language, [these hymns and spirituals] are fresh, invigorating, and exuberant… Harbach’s playing reflects the music itself: strong, vibrant, rhythmic, clear. The large Aeolian-Skinner suits the music well, providing plenty of color, brilliance, and clarity in a moderately dry acoustic… This recording will provide much pleasurable listening and be a welcome resource for those seeking appealing, high-quality, hymn-based literature..”
The American Organist [May 2011]

“This is a very enjoyable organ recital, the tunes just familiar enough and the treatment just novel enough to sustain interest throughout. Splendid sound.”
Fanfare [July / August 2009]

“Lovingly researched and expertly composed and arranged [this album is] a fitting representation of the remarkable dedication at the heart of Dr. Barbara Harbach’s life work. Her performances successfully transfer the music with vibrancy and a joyful respect… [This release arrives] with informative notes including an account of the many achievements of Dr. Harbach and the historical background to the music she has chosen and performed… the well chosen selection of hymns act as further endorsement of the level of respect which Barbara Harbach has for this particular genre. [This album] is distinctly individual, expertly performed, and contain[s] a high degree of educational value. Harbach’s greatly admired authoritative position within the music world, and her abilities to perform the pieces with such command are all on display within these works. They provide a highly satisfying addition to any classical music collection.”
Jeff Perkins, BlogCritics [May 2009]

“The art of the organ hymn paraphrase is something that goes back to the seventeenth century, and this very well-filled MSR disc features a variety of hymn settings, ranging from Harbach’s growling, slightly discordant setting of “Sufferer” to her bright and radiant rendering of “Antioch” (i.e., “Joy to the World”). Harbach brings together an interesting mix of the hardy counterpoint and fugues common to the German tradition and the harmonic preferences and flourishes of the French approach, though many of the tunes are American… the recording itself, made with an Aeolian-Skinner at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, MO, is splendid. MSR and Barbara Harbach’s Toccatas, Flourishes & Fugues will provide some interesting and fresh pieces to the attention of organists everywhere and likewise will bring enjoyment to those who welcome a novel twist on familiar hymn tunes as played on the organ.”
All Music Guide [April 2009]

“These small pieces are what many would consider to be typical organ music, but there’s more to them than that for nothing this composer does is ordinary – there’s always something unexpected in there. Somewhere… Harbach is probably better known both as an organist and harpsichordist than as a composer but it is to be hoped that this will change and the three issues, so far, of her music on CD should be going along way to introducing her special art to English audiences. This disk is a fine example of her taste and capabilities in creating music for what is, after all, a fairly limited medium and one which hasn’t been visited too often by contemporary composers… The recorded sound is magnificent. Crisp and clear with a little reverberation but not so much that the music is lost in endless echo, for this full praise must go to engineer Roger Fredrickson for his perfectly placing the organ in the right aural setting… This is well worth investigating for, as always with Harbach, there’s so much to enjoy in her music.”
Bob Briggs, Music Web International [February 2009]

“Barbara Harbach has distinguished herself as one of the preeminent American composers of any generation.”
All Music Guide [December 2007]