HARBACH VOL.6: CHAMBER MUSIC IIIReeds, Brass, Strings, Harpsichord & Piano
UM-ST LOUIS CHAMBER SOLOISTS
Kurt Baldwin, David Gillham, Barbara Harbach, Paul Hecht, Paula Kasica, Cynthia Green Libby, John McGrosso, Joanna Mendoza, Ruth Price & Alla Voskoboynikova
World Premiere Recordings
"I said in a review of the second disc of chamber pieces [by Harbach] 'her music is appealingly straightforward: themes are immediately attractive, forms clear, and textures and harmonies transparent.' All still true... As she proves with a playful update of Scarlatti, Harbach is also a formidable harpsichordist. In this performance she savages the keyboard, at times making the instrument sound almost like an organ. Perambulations makes effective use of the infrequently heard combination of trumpet and piano. Harbach has a gift for both merging and contrasting the sounds of two instruments, and most of the duos treat the instruments as equals. But Perambulations is more like a sonata for trumpet, even including a brief cadenza, played with gorgeous tone by Paul Hecht... The concluding Emanations From the Sacred Harp...is a loving arrangement of five simple American hymns... This release provides many pleasurable moments, a few surprises, interesting timbral combinations, and more humor than can be found in the entire oeuvre of many contemporary composers... if you purchase any of the CDs in MSR's series, you may wind up wanting them all."
Ron Bierman, Music & Vision [June 2011]
" 'Morning Fantasy’ from Emanations from the Sacred Harp is really nice; there’s appropriate drama, melodic interest, and it’s played with excellent phrasing by the cellist... Tres Danzas para Clavecin...has a welcome bite, and the glissandos are amusing... I’ve never heard a harpsichord sound more psychedelic, nor so full-bodied... Harbach has a sense of lyricism and an appreciation for beauty and elegance that most modern composers don’t."
Estep, American Record Guide [May/June 2011][
"[This CD is] jam-packed with music which is both attractive and extremely accessible - melodic, tonal, structured, intelligent, varied… Given the variety of instruments on offer, there will likely be something for everyone on the disc… there are no weak works or fillers either… The sound quality is high… Harbach has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of women in the arts, for which work she has received a number of awards. It is to be hoped that soon her music too will start receiving greater recognition."
Byzantion, MusicWeb International [March 2011]
"Here is a chamber music CD by an American composer whose work illustrates just how varied the current musical scene is in our country... most of this music has a quintessentially American tunefulness and vigor that should make it a favorite of recitalists. It gets first-rate advocacy from the composer and her colleagues at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The recordings, made in a number of venues in Missouri and New York State , are all very good—big, bright, with good presence. It’s a tribute to the MSR engineers that consistency is maintained throughout, regardless of venue."
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition [February 2011]
"...these works are attractive and have instant melodic appeal... strong performances, including some from the composer herself..."
[ * * * ] BBC Music [March 2011]
“Harbach’s music astonished me for its heavy reliance on the lyric and the beautifully (and cogently) framed melodic line. I could listen to her music for hours.”
American Record Guide [March/April 2008]
“Harbach has distinguished herself as one of the preeminent American composers of any generation.”
All Music Guide [December 2007]
“Nothing short of brilliant”
PROGRAM NOTESFrontier Fancies for Violin and Piano (1996) In Fiddleflirt, the two instruments are protagonists in a duel of speed and energy. Twilight Dream is an evocative aria and respite before the concluding tarantella of Dancedevil.
American Dialogues for Flute and Piano (1997) Flute and piano imitate, chase, and call out to the other as they explore the full range and dynamic possibilities of both instruments. Folk-like melodies, harmonies built on fourths, dissonances of rubbing seconds, clashing sevenths, and devilish fourths (“diabolous in musica”) give color to the dialogues.
Four Dances for Two for Oboe and Violin (1997) opens with Rococo Promenade, which is based on the French Baroque overture style with a galloping fugal middle section before a return to the jaggedly-dotted style of the beginning. Afternoon Divertimento alternates a calm, lullaby-like mood with bursts of frenzied energy typical of a weekend afternoon. Get Reel portrays a whimsically reeling, roiling, reel (really!) with rapid and smoothly flowing figures. Holiday Glide features clockwork precision interpolated with slides and glides and glissandi.
Tres Danzas para Clavecin (1989) is influenced by Spanish flamenco guitar music. Cante flamenco has cascading swirls of descending and ascending motives often incorporating South American dance rhythms. Andante para vihuelo de penole suggests a melancholic jazz feel featuring the lute stop, while Danza-Deliro is a frenzied, rapturous high-speed race to the finish.
Phantasy and Phugue for Solo Piano (1994) begins with a thunderclap opening, followed by a mysterious atmosphere that builds until the tolling of low octaves in the bass heralds a hypnotic middle section. One of the techniques employed in this section is a melody superimposed over a repeated rhythmic pattern. This moves into an athletic gigue-like fugue that changes it shape through augmentation, texture and range.
Spaindango: Caprice for Harpsichord (1988) opens with an 11/8 meter with blistering chords, often only a 1/2-step apart, producing a sound that evolves into a Spanish dance with glissandos that zip up and down the keyboard.
Rustic Scene for Viola and Piano (1998) evokes the quintessentially American frontier character and spirit. The musical terrain includes calm, quiet and melodious conversations, ecstatic dancing, cascading scales and fiery musical competition before settling on a common vision. Each theme has its own character and tempo, and the cadenza for the viola is reminiscent of fragrant blossoms in the summer. Rustic Scene vividly evokes a landscape full of lush harmonies and exotic melodic perfumes, a musical vista of resonant colors and aromatic counterpoint.
Perambulations for Trumpet and Piano (1996) opens with a blues-tinged melodic theme before moving to a bright Vivace toccata in the piano with emphatic chords and considerable interplay between the two instruments. Development of each theme is followed by a playfully relaxed trumpet cadenza before joining with the piano for a bravura finish.
Daystream Dances for Oboe and Piano (1992) Rolling Brightness is a rollicking and upbeat dialogue between oboe and piano with soaring lines and frequent key changes that give it a playful character. Reeling Dusk is a headlong rush into a whirl of sound and sense. The unusual meter signature of 11/8 creates a slightly off-kilter sway. Rhythmic complexities lead into a dramatic oboe cadenza before returning to the opening theme and meter.
Emanations from the Sacred Harp for Cello and Piano (2001) was written for cellist Robert Haskins to reflect his great interest in early American sacred music. It is based on five hymn tunes primarily from the First New England School of Composers of the Revolutionary and Federalist Periods. The hymns are “How Firm a Foundation,” “The Morning Trumpet,” “Jordan,” “Morning Hymn” and most prominently, William Billings’ “Chester.” The first movement, Morning Fantasy, is an eloquent fantasy beginning and ending with a quasi-improvisatory setting for the central hymn tune “The Morning Trumpet.” Reeling Chester begins with an introductory fragment and then a complete statement of “Chester” in the cello, clothed in a polyphonic texture in the piano that evokes the energy and drive of the early New England style. The counterpoint then becomes the subject of a fugue that weaves the tune into its fabric in ingenious ways. Hymns, another fugue, reels and more hymns are brought together, climaxing in a celebration of heritage and collegiality.
* * *
Barbara Harbach has a substantial catalog of compositions, including symphonies, operas, musicals, film scores, ballets, choral anthems, arrangements of Baroque works for brass and organ, as well as works for chamber ensemble, string orchestra, organ, harpsichord and piano. Harbach is also involved in the research, editing, recording and publication of 18th-century keyboard manuscripts as well as the work of historical and contemporary women composers. Her work is available in recorded form through MSR Classics, Naxos, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records and Hester Park; and in published form through Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Agape Music and Vivace Press. Harbach has also toured extensively as both concert organist and harpsichordist and 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. In June 2009, her musical, Booth!, was premiered at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York where it won a competition at the Tisch School. O Pioneers! An American Opera was premiered in 2009 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In 2002, Harbach received an honorary doctorate in music, honoris causa, from Wilmington College in Ohio for her lifetime achievement as a composer, performer, editor and publisher. In addition, she was host of the weekly television series Palouse Performance seen throughout the Inland Northwest. Editor of the Women of Note Quarterly journal, Barbara Harbach initiated Women in the Arts-St. Louis, a celebration of the achievements of women creators. The more than 800 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 recognition of these achievements, in 2006 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 and the Faculty Excellence Award from the UM-St. Louis College of Fine Arts and Communication. In 2007 Harbach was awarded the Hellenic Spirit Foundation Award. Currently professor of music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, she holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (BA), Yale University (MMA), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt and the Eastman School of Music (DMA). [ www.barbaraharbach.com ]
FRONTIER FANCIES for Violin & Piano (1996)
II. Twilight Dream
AMERICAN DIALOGUES Flute & Piano (1997)
4 DANCES FOR 2 Oboe & Violin (1997)
I. Rococo Promenade
II. Afternoon Divertimento
III. Get Reel
IV. Holiday Glide
TRES DANZAS para Clavecin (1989)
I. Cante flamenco
II. Andante para vihuelo de penole
PHANTASY AND PHUGUE Solo Piano (1994)
SPAINDANGO Caprice for Harpsichord (1988)
RUSTIC SCENE for Viola & Piano (1998)
PERAMBULATIONS Trumpet & Piano (1996)
DAYSTREAM DANCES Oboe & Piano (1992)
I. Rolling Brightness
II. Reeling Dusk
EMANATIONS FROM THE SACRED HARP Cello & Piano (2001)
I. Morning Fantasy
II. Reeling Chester
HARBACH VOL.13: ORCHESTRAL MUSIC V
Expressions for Orchestra BARBARA HARBACH
HARBACH VOL.5: VOCAL MUSIC
HARBACH VOL.12: ORCHESTRAL MUSIC IV
Symphonic Storytelling BARBARA HARBACH
Music for Violin, Cello and Organ BARBARA HARBACH
HARBACH VOL.10: CHAMBER MUSIC V
Soprano, Violin, Piano & Chamber Orchestra BARBARA HARBACH
J.S. BACH: ORGAN MUSIC
SOLER: HARPSICHORD SONATAS 1-120
Padre Samuel Rubio Edition BARBARA HARBACH
HARBACH VOL.9: ORCHESTRAL MUSIC II
Symphonies, Soundings & Celebrations BARBARA HARBACH
JS BACH: THE ART OF FUGUE & PACHELBEL
Komm Susser Tod
Pachelbel: Canon, Chorale BARBARA HARBACH