Harbach Vol. 2: Chamber Music I

Record Label: MSR Classics
Release Date: November 2012

Harbach Vol. 2 MSR 1253 Chamber Music I – Ensemble, String Quartet & Woodwind Quintet
Kirk Trevor, conductor Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Istropolis: Moyzes String Quartet, Woodwind Quintet and Brass Quintet Slovak Radio Symphony Wind & String Chamber Soloists American Solstice for Chamber Ensemble (Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass & Piano) MUSOC.ORG 2009 Classics of Contemporary Art Music ~ November 2009

American Solstice for Chamber Ensemble (Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass & Piano)
Transformations for String Quartet
Forces at Play for Chamber Ensemble (Flute/Piccolo, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano & Percussion)
Carondelet Caprice for Chamber Ensemble (Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello & Piano)
Fantasy and Fugue for Woodwind Quintet
Separately Together – Synesthesia for Chamber Ensemble (Flute/Piccolo, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello & Piano)
Rhapsody Ritmico for Brass Quintet


“The chamber-music disc brings a…Coplandesque slant, with American Solstice. Taking as her basis (loosely) an American fiddle tune, Harbach crafts a real sense of joy, an impression only underlined by the excellent performance. The Transformations for string quartet [has] eight short movements, each lovingly delivered here by the Moyzes Quartet. Separately Together…is a score full of playfulness; Carondelet Caprice…is charm in the shape of simple yet effective counterpoint. The skillful Fantasy and Fugue on Swing Low, Sweet Chariot for winds is just waiting to enter the repertoire, I would think. It must be so much fun to play, as well as to listen to. The dance element that shaped the genesis of Forces at Play is very evident here. Separately Together—Synaesthesia for chamber ensemble includes some fascinating pages. But they have saved the best until last: the Rhapsody Ritmico for brass quintet is a blast (literally as well as in Affekt). Again counterpoint (here a full-blown fugue) is a vital part of the mix.”
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [July/August 2012]

Classics of Contemporary Art Music [November 2009]

“It’s always good to find a new composer whose music speaks directly to you, using a language which is easy to understand and assimilate…and which has tunes. Say Hi to Barbara Harbach…the pieces here recorded are quite delightful. There is an open-air quality to these pieces, much in the manner of the Copland of the ballets and the folk inspired works of the 1940s. The scoring is transparent and the textures clear and bright. This is “white note” music, and is an excellent example of a “new simplicity” in composition. I am wondering if this music is the aural equivalent of the Americana of the work of Grandma Moses, but I must say that although both Harbach and Moses create works of Americana, there is nothing naïve about this music…when I have compared [Harbach’s music] to Copland I don’t mean that it sounds like Copland – certainly, this music doesn’t sound like any composer I’ve ever heard, it is original in that respect. It is very well written and skillfully, and gratefully, scored for the various ensembles. The performances here are very assured and the recorded sound…is easy on the ear…I am very pleased to have made Ms. Harbach’s acquaintance and want to hear more of her work. It’s fine stuff, well deserving of a hearing.”
Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International [July 2008]

“…American Solstice is wonderfully fresh, with sunny upbeat melody, making for far more than pleasant listening…Forces at Play begins with a gorgeous theme, beautifully developed…The recording is good and the authoritative notes very welcome. I strongly recommend both releases.”
R. James Tobin, Classical.com [July 2008]

“[Harbach’s] style is unabashedly tonal and optimistic, attractive in uncomplicated fashion. Barbara Harbach’s chamber music is melodic and well-crafted…this is attractive music and I look forward to exploring more. No complaints about the performances under Kirk Trevor and various ensembles, all of which provide worthy advocacy…”
Gramophone [July 2008]

“The engineering is ideal. [Harbach’s] music lives in the best of all possible worlds. There’s a place in the universe for Harbach’s music.”
International Record Collector [June 2008]

“The chamber works by Barbara Harbach are…more varied and maintain interest switching between several different ensembles… The sonics are first rate.”
John Sunier, Audiophile Audition [May 2008]

“[Harbach] is a master organist and harpsichordist…She’s a dead-on-heart-and-soul American romanticist in the Copland-Hanson-Harris mold… 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. This music is so uniquely characterized with its own sense of beauty that it makes me wonder where this woman has been all our lives. This is music that really needs to be heard. A great deal of credit for the success of the music on [this record] goes to the conductor and the sound engineers. They have done their best to present the composer, who should someday-if there is any justice in the universe-become a household name. You have got to hear this woman’s music if you’re a fan of mid-century American romanticism. She brings something entirely new to the table.”
American Record Guide [March / April 2008]

“Barbara Harbach has distinguished herself as one of the preeminent American composers of any generation. Her music is distinctly American, with clever folk elements that hint at Copland but are all uniquely her own. [this disc is] a testament to Harbach’s versatility in this environment; the works on this album are scored for an impressive assortment of instruments, from the traditional string quartet, brass and woodwind quintets, to larger ensembles featuring both strings, winds, and brass.”
All Music Guide [December 2007]