As much as English composer Orlando Gibbons still receives high praise for his choral works and contrapuntal works for strings, a consensus among many interpreters suggests his keyboard compositions remain mostly underappreciated. As one of nearly 100 keyboard works by various composers preserved in an anthology called Benjamin Cosyn’s Virginal Book (1623-1643), this Fantasia in G minor goes by an alternative English title, “A Fancy in Gamut flatt.”
Gibbons’ method of organizing material involves presenting short motives consecutively in each different voice, much like a fugue, connected by moments too brief to be development. Still, the relentlessly steady counterpoint does not easily reveal this to the listener. An Allegro contrasting section continues the sophisticated counterpoint. A final Meno mosso section makes for a fitting closing, with an extended melody in an embellished imitation between the outer voices.
Gregg Wager is a composer and critic. He is author of Symbolism as a Compositional Method in the Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen. He has a PhD in musicology from the Free University Berlin and a JD from McGeorge School of Law.