ANNA BON: HARPSICHORD SONATAS
Anna Bon Di Venezia
Harpsichord Built by Willard Martin (1989), A Copy of An 18th Century, Two-Manual French Double Harpsichord Designed by François Blanchet.
"[Anna Bon's] work remained largely overlooked but is now the subject of this excellent release courtesy of Dr. Barbara Harbach’s commitment and, of course, her skill of performance. The album would probably have never seen light of day without Dr. Harbach’s dedication to her chosen cause."
Jeff Perkins, BlogCritics - May 2009
"Harbach has a fluent technique..."
BBC Music Magazine - November 2008
"Barbara Harbach is a splendid musician whose commitment to excellence as a performer informs all of this music with not only Bon's evident spirit of fun but also her contrasting moods of reflection and energy. In other words, she has taken fairly ordinary music with a few extraordinary moments and made it all sound rather excellent by virtue of her interpretive brilliance and total identification with the material. This is extraordinary harpsichord-playing by any measure. I would buy this recording just to hear this woman play...because she elevates every note and phrase into a realm beyond the written score. This album is a triumph for Harbach and a vindication of her decision to record these works."
Fanfare - September / October 2008
"Barbara Harbach’s playing complements [the music's] variety in the well judged use which she makes of a wide range of registrations. Player and instrument bring out the dramatic dimensions of some of Bon’s music... a good deal was lost when Bon swapped the life of composition for life as a married woman. Clearly and brightly recorded - but not overly so - this makes a very persuasive case for the precocious musical virtues of the young Anna Bon and will surely interest and give pleasure to all lovers of the harpsichord tradition...this is fine music."
MusicWeb International - August 2008
"The emphasis [of these works] is generally on grace and charm... Harbach plays with considerable skill, wit and obvious affection for young Anna's music."
International Record Review - July/August 2008
"We just marveled at the wonderful compositions of Barbara Harbach and here she is back on the performer’s bench with a unique program of harpsichord sonatas...[Her instrument's] sound is perfect for the sonatas and well recorded too."
Audiophile Audition - May 2008
"Bon's Six Sonatas for Harpsichord Opus 2, printed when she was between the ages of 17 and 19, clearly attests to her talents, which register to the ear not as the products of an eager, bright and enthusiastic teenager but that of an experienced, seasoned and accomplished musician with a unique voice... [Barbara Harbach] has edited these works for Vivace Press and knows every twist and turn in these scores. Harbach utilizes a beautiful sounding Willard Martin instrument fashioned after a French double manual harpsichord built by François Blanchet; it suits the music perfectly, and Harbach intelligently works with the Martin's various registrations to keep the program overall varied in sound...
Releases like [this] may lead some old school grumblers to say, "We are only reviving such fourth tier composers because they are women." Let them grumble away; were Bon male, those grumbling would have no trouble accepting her as a significant and substantive transitional figure from the Baroque-to-Classical era, comparable to Johann Schobert. Those who enjoy and appreciate eighteenth-century keyboard music will certainly not fail to treasure this MSR release."
All Music Guide - May 2008
PROGRAM NOTESThe short life of Anna Bon di Venezia (c. 1740-1767) remains mysterious, yet intriguing. Little is known about her early years, although she referred to herself in the dedications to her compositions as Anna Bon di Venezia. Apparently her parents were successful, her mother as an opera singer and her father as a stage designer, and eventually all three were hired at the court of Prince Nikolaus von Esterhazy. The last known historical date for Anna Bon is in 1767, when she married an Italian tenor. Following a pattern typical of women composers and performers of the time, she apparently abandoned her musical career after marriage. Fortunately, however, she left us a tantalizing musical legacy of two works.
BARBARA HARBACH has been an advocate of women composers, both historically and contemporary, since the beginning of her career. She has received numerous grants to edit and publish women composers such as Maria Hester Reynolds, Olivia Dussek, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Clara Schumann and many others. Her interest in women composers has taken her into European and American libraries, getting microfilm of historical editions, editing the manuscripts, publishing them and then recording the works. To her great delight, she has recovered several child prodigies – Anna Bon (c. 1740-1767) and Elizabeth Weichsell Billington (1765-1818). Her lively performances and recordings have captured the imagination of many American composers, and the body of work written for and dedicated to Harbach is substantial.
As a composer, Harbach has written symphonies, works for chamber ensemble, string orchestra, organ, harpsichord, musicals, choral anthems, film scores, modern ballets, and arrangements for brass and organ of various Baroque works. She is also involved in the research, editing and publication of manuscripts of eighteenth-century keyboard composers as well as historical and contemporary women composers. Her work is available in both recorded and published form through MSR Classics, Naxos, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, Hester Park, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Publishing, Agape Music and Vivace Press. Harbach is also the editor of Women of Note Quarterly.
Harbach initiated Women in the Arts-St. Louis, a celebration of the achievements of women creators. The over 850 events by various cultural organizations in the St. Louis region provided audiences with new and historical examples of the work of women writers, composers and artists. In 2006 for her work Women in the Arts-St. Louis she was the recipient of the Arts Education Award from the Missouri Arts Council: the Missouri Citizen for the Arts Award: the Yellow rose Award from the Zonta International Club of St. Louis; the UM-St. Louis College of Fine Arts and Communication, Faculty Excellence Award; and in 2007 she was awarded the Hellenic Spirit Foundation Award.
Currently, Dr. Barbara Harbach is Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and has toured extensively as both concert organist and harpsichordist. She holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (BA), Yale University (MMA), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Eastman School of Music (DMA). In 2002, Harbach received an honorary doctorate in music, honoris causa, from Wilmington College, Ohio for her lifetime achievement as a composer, performer, editor and publisher.
ANNA BON DI VENEZIA (c. 1740-1767)
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