THOMAS HAIGH6 Concertos for Harpsichord (1783)
BARBARA HARBACH, harpsichord
World Premiere Recordings
“Harbach’s playing is delightful, relentless, and in strict tempo when the music demands, backing off when her ‘solo’ parts come in with their only slightly varied lines. She performs each of the fast movements energetically, and the slow movements with considerable grace… [For anyone] looking for sheer joyous entertainment, you should obtain this excellent disc.”
Bertil van Boer, Issue 36:6, Fanfare [July/Aug 2013]
“Thomas Haigh (1769-c.1808) was an accomplished and well-regarded musician and composer in his day… His six concertos are designed to be performed as keyboard solos or with the accompaniment of two violins and cello. Harbach performs them as solos. I did not miss the strings on account of the beautiful Willard Martin harpsichord she plays…Well-recorded on this release, it has an incisive attack and a sweet, full decay… Haigh’s music is optimistic and lighthearted. He has a gentle sense of humor… His music also shows some traces of his British ancestry… Barbara Harbach plays with gracious enthusiasm. Lovers of Haydn’s music may be curious to hear how his gifted pupil put to use what must have been extraordinary lessons.”
Katz, American Record Guide [July/August 2013]
“[This is music] with a heavy reliance upon melodic ideas, of which Haigh seems proficient. The keyboard is demanding with a lot of technical wizardry required…. Haigh is a fine composer—and these are premiere recordings as well… classical period aficionados will find much interest here. Barbara Harbach sits atop these opuses with much authority and evident pleasure that comes across in these recordings. The sound of her Willard Martin 1989 harpsichord is rather bright and forceful, yet of a crystalline clarity. She projects Haigh’s intention with panache and an effortless sense of style.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [May 2013]
PROGRAM NOTESHarpsichord built by Willard Martin in 1989, a copy of an 18th century two-manual French double harpsichord, designed by François Blanchet.
Thomas Haigh (1769-c.1808) was a pianist, violinist and composer. He studied with Franz Joseph Haydn in London during Haydn’s first visit to London in 1791-1792 and dedicated his Violin Sonatas Op. 8 and Op. 10 to Haydn. Haigh arranged many of Haydn’s works for piano such as Symphonies No.70 and No.81 as well as the Armida Overture. Several of Haigh’s publications appear to date from 1815-1819, and it may be that Haigh died later than 1808, since posthumous publication of new works rarely occurred.
Six Concertos for the Harpsichord or Piano Forte with accompaniments for two Violins and Cello was published in London for the author in 1783. Harbach has chosen to record the Six Concertos as solo harpsichord concertos without the accompanying violins and violoncello. In the time of Haigh, it was fashionable and accepted to write accompanied and unaccompanied concertos. Thomas Arne (1710-1778) wrote six keyboard concertos that may be played with or without the two oboes and strings.
The Six Concertos are inventive, and each is different in style and melodic construction. Some general characteristics include brilliant, virtuosic and idiomatic keyboard figurations (cross hands, cross rhythms of three against two, chromatic scales, parallel thirds in both slow and fast movements); numerous embellishments, such as trills and figurations typical of the times and reflecting Haigh’s study with Haydn; and a variety of rhythmic figurations that go from throbbing eighth-notes to triplets, to sixteenth-notes with fast scalar runs; ascending and descending octaves; arpeggios and tremolos. The melodies are charming and appealing, often with folk-like, triadic melodic construction and Alberti bass accompaniments abound, producing driving energy and rhythms. While the concertos have limited repetition or development of ideas, most movements provide cadenza opportunities.
In the mid 1780s, a few dynamics are in evidence, and Haigh made use of piano, forte, mezzoforte and crescendo, as well as of slurs and accent marks. Forte or tutti signifies the full ensemble, often played on the lower harpsichord manual coupled or uncoupled, while the piano marking is for the keyboard soloist played on either the upper manual or lower manual. The forte or tutti sections have a fuller texture and smaller range, while the solo writing encompasses most of the harpsichord range and is written in idiomatic keyboard style. The Concertos are challenging for the performer - and fun to play.
The Concertos have three movements, except for Concerto No.1 and No.5, each of which have two. The first movements have several characteristics in common, such as a tutti-solo format, a short development section, motivic echoes, sequences and circle of fifths progressions. In both the first and last movements, a music box effect often occurs with both hands playing above middle C. Concerto No.3 begins in French Ouverture style with a written-out cadenza, atypical of the Concertos. The slow movements are short while the last movements are in rondo form, usually ABACA, often with a short coda. The C section is usually in the parallel minor key.
Barbara Harbach has toured extensively as both concert organist and harpsichordist throughout the United States and Canada, and internationally in Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Romania, Serbia and Siberia. Harbach’s lively performances and recordings have captured the imagination of many American composers, and the body of work written for and dedicated to her is substantial. She is involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of 18th century keyboard composers, as well as of historical and contemporary women composers. As an accomplished and prolific composer herself, Harbach has a large catalog of works, including symphonies, operas and ballets; works for chamber and string ensemble; musicals and film scores; works for organ, harpsichord and piano; choral anthems; and arrangements for brass and organ of Baroque music.
Barbara Harbach’s work is available in both recorded and published form through MSR Classics, Naxos Records, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, Hester Park, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Agape Music and Vivace Press.
[ www.barbaraharbach.com ]
PROGRAMTHOMAS HAIGH (1769-c.1808)
HARPSICHORD CONCERTO NO.1 IN D MAJOR
Allegro - Presto
HARPSICHORD CONCERTO NO.2 IN B-FLAT MAJOR
Rondeau – Allegretto
HARPSICHORD CONCERTO NO.3 IN A MINOR
Rondo – Allegretto
HARPSICHORD CONCERTO NO.4 IN G MAJOR
Tempo di Minuetto
HARPSICHORD CONCERTO NO.5 IN C MAJOR
Rondo – Allegro
HARPSICHORD CONCERTO NO.6 IN E-FLAT MAJOR
Rondo – Allegretto
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