Alexandre Boely (1785-1858), lived exactly during the transition between the classical french organ music and the romantic one (Franck's "Six Pièces " were composed from 1859 to 1863). This piece belongs to the romantic world with the fantaisie but the fugue remains firmly rooted in the classical tradition.
There are two versions on two organs which may be qualified as "transitional" each one in its own way : St Omer's Cavaillé-Coll first and thenWeissenau's Holzhey. They frame exactly Boely's life : the Holzhey - classical with pre-romantic features - was built in 1787 and the Cavaillé -Coll - romantic with classical features - was built in 1855.
The piece begins with the whirlings of the very pianistic and exhuberant fantaisie (0:00
). Then comes the calm fugue with its singing subject in b flat minor (1:09
). But the fantaisie motives come back soon (2:00
) and the fugue becomes more and more animated. Finally, the fantaisie comes back (3:43
) until the end.
Boely was organist in Paris, and was fired by his parish's priest because he played Bach's music which was then considered as boring by the clergy and the parishioners, who prefered by far the Lefebure-Wely's style :-).