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Portraits in Sound

Barbara Harbach

DAVID ANGUS, conductor

World Premiere Recordings



“works on this symphonies disc fall into the “excellent” category, and are quite moving and enthralling. Her style doesn’t vary too much—I can’t see her music existing without other of the “American” school like Harris and Thomson—but her ideas, in many instances, bolster the exceptional construction and immersion into a truly tonal idiom that is her hallmark... This is a very fine disc with some wonderful music... The London Phil plays with passion and energy in a wonderfully resonant recording.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [November 2017]
“[the London Philharmonic] play splendidly... Everything is superbly orchestrated, and is aided by a transparent recording... [the music] does supply an agreeable experience... The Pioneers Symphony is spacious and lucid, like a film score, building to a jubilant coda... The brass are wonderful [In the ‘St Louis Blues’]”.
Sullivan, American Record Guide [May/June 2017]
“MSR Classics have used the London Philharmonic for each of the three orchestral works' volumes... certainly one that guarantees excellent performances. As I have noted, the notes are very good; they are written in the third person, but with a detail that suggests substantial input from the composer. Sound is equally good. If you enjoy contemporary works with tunes, and do not require to be drawn into complex musical arguments, then you should investigate Barbara Harbach’s well-crafted music.”
David Barker, MusicWeb International [May 2017]
“...three rather fine works and in excellent performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the knowing baton of David Angus. The sound reproduction is vivid and powerful, and the album notes are very informative and highly detailed. If you're interested in very accessible contemporary orchestral music, this MSR Classics disc may be of strong interest to you.”
Robert Cummings, ClassicalNet [May 2017]
“The consistent high standard of Harbach’s music, coupled with her consistency of expressive means, is massively impressive... The first thing to note is the standard of performance throughout. The London Philharmonic is going through something of a heyday these days... The orchestra plays immensely responsively here under David Angus; there is a lovely sense of flow and inevitability to the slower sections of these works... it is difficult to imagine finer, fresher versions... Fascinating to see how opera, literature, film, and American music in its various forms all inform Harbach’s completely unique and immensely strong style. The recording team deserve credit also, for the sound is first-rate... This is fantastic, stimulating music by a master craftswoman.”
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [May/June 2017]
“all four [symphonies] are well-constructed and show considerable ability in handling large orchestral forces. [Harbach] shows a sure sense of style, and comfort with modern compositional techniques without slavish devotion to them. The four symphonies here are four cases in point: each is in the traditional three movements, each lasts 15 to 20 minutes, each is programmatic, and each sounds different from the others but recognizable as Harbach’s for those familiar with her style.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [February 2017]
“Harbach continues to impress with her fluent compositional craft in these works... David Angus and the London Philharmonic Orchestra do a splendid job in bringing these pieces to life. Pacing and accuracy of ensemble are especially noteworthy attributes of these premiere recordings.”
David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare [January/February 2017]
“Harbach is an economical symphonist -- the works are uniformly short, focused, and efficiently orchestrated... Harbach shows a great deal of imagination and variety... [In Symphony No.7 "O, Pioneer"] Harbach manages to evoke the great expanse of the Nebraska prairie without for a moment sounding like Aaron Copland. No mean feat... I enjoyed this release. Barbara Harbach is a composer who follows her own muse, and I continue to admire her originality.”
Ralph Graves, Finding Beauty in Ephemera [January 2017]
Barbara Harbach has a large catalog of works, including symphonies, operas, works for string and chamber ensemble, choral anthems, ballet, musicals and film scores, pieces for organ, harpsichord and piano and arrangements of Baroque works for brass and organ. A gifted performer as well, Harbach has toured extensively as both concert organist and harpsichordist throughout the United States and Canada, and overseas throughout Europe and Asia. Her lively performances and recordings have captured the imagination of many American composers; the body of work written for and dedicated to her is substantial. Harbach is also heavily involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of 18th-century keyboard composers, as well as historical and contemporary women composers. A prolific composer, Harbach’s work is published by Vivace Press, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Encore Music Publishers, Art of Sound Music and Agape Music. As a highly active recording artist, her performances are available from MSR Classics, Naxos Records, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records and Hester Park. Harbach, who serves as editor of the WomenArts Quarterly Journal, initiated Women in the Arts−St. Louis, a celebration of the achievements of women creators. More than 800 events by cultural organizations in the St. Louis region have provided audiences with new and historical examples of the work of women writers, composers and artists. In recognition of this achievement, she received 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, and the Faculty Excellence Award from the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Missouri−St. Louis. The winner of numerous awards and honors, Harbach received the Hellenic Spirit Foundation Award, the Grand Center Visionary Award for “Successful Working Artist,” the Argus Foundation Award, and the YWCA Leader of Distinction Award in the Arts. She was recently named National Arts Associate Distinguished Member of SAI, Buffalo Chapter, and one of the “30 Most Innovative Women Professors Alive Today”. Harbach is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate in music, Honoris Causa, from Wilmington College, Ohio for her lifetime achievement as a composer, performer, editor and publisher. Currently a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri−St. Louis, Harbach holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (BA), Yale University (MMA), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Eastman School of Music (DMA). [ www.barbaraharbach.com ]

Born in England, David Angus spent his early years in Belfast. He was a boy chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, under Sir David Willcocks, and read music at Surrey University where he specialized as a pianist. He finished his training with a Fellowship in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he won several prizes for his opera conducting. In the United States, Angus has appeared with the Utah Symphony and San Antonio Symphony, in Canada with the Calgary Philharmonic, and in the United Kingdom with many of their major orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Northern Sinfonia. He appears regularly with the London Philharmonic and London Mozart Players, both in concert and in the studio, and also conducts across Europe, particularly in Denmark and in Scandinavia, where he is a regular guest with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Angus is Music Director of Boston Lyric Opera and Honorary Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Flanders, following several successful years there as Principal Conductor. He is heard frequently on BBC Radio 3 and on stations in Austria, Ireland, Holland, Denmark, Italy and Belgium.
I. Conflict
II. Now I See What Cannot Be
III. Always on Our Love Depend

I. Hester
II. Chillingworth
III. Dimmesdale

I. The Annunciation
II. Celestial Vaults
III. Temptations

I. Heroes
II. The Fallen
III. Together in Harmony

MSR Classics
Symphonies, Soundings & Celebrations BARBARA HARBACH