The recital opens with the striking On an Ancient Alleluia by the American Roberta Bitgood (b. 1908). It's just what its title claims: a short piece inspired by a sixteenth-century melody. An opening flourish gives way to a meditation on the simple material it is based on, and it concludes with a swinging toccata. Amy Beach's wan and wandering Prelude on an Old Folk Tune, her only organ composition, is unfortunately a rather characterless affair. Not so the chorale fantasy Psalm 104 and Fugue by Elizabeth Stirling (1819-95), acknowledged as the first woman to give organ recitals in England: it is basically a simple chordal statement of the subject, followed by a marvelously solid contrapuntal edifice, not strikingly new, but oh so well done. There follows the neo-Romantic Passacaglia of Edith Borroff (b. 1925) and Fanny Hensel's rather four-square Prelude in F major.
A title like that of Marga Richter's Quantum Quirks of a Quick Quaint Quark instantly arouses my suspicions. Take the piece as harmless fun, and I suppose she gets away with it. The Sonatina by Violet Archer, a Canadian now eight decades old, is an engaging piece of neo-Classical fun, unassuming and effective, and Clara Schumann's Prelude and Fugue in D minor, Op. 16, No. 3, shows something of the sobriety and strength which apparently characterised her piano playing.
The youngest composer in this collection is the American Gwyneth Walker, born in 1947: In Celebration isn't quite as good-hearted as the title suggests - there is, indeed, a deal of edginess among its glittering ostinatos.
Throughout Harbach plays superbly, and the recording, made in a church in Georgia, is both clear and powerful.