Harbach Vol. 13: Orchestral Music V

Record Label: MSR Classics
Release Date: November 2019

Symphonic Storytelling

DAVID ANGUS, conductor


“Here is a fine composer with her own unique voice. She has a gift for melody, is a fine orchestrator and is obviously skilled at counterpoint and harmony. Added to this, the London Philharmonic Orchestra is very fine and conductor David Angus obviously provides great insight into how this music should be performed. I look forward to hearing more of her work.”
Geoff Pearce, Classical Music Daily [September 2020]

“MSR Classics gives the listener good fidelity on this new collection of Harbach’s work,I think this disc or download belongs in everyone’s collection of American music.”
Maria Nockin, Fanfare [May/June 2020]

“…conductor David Angus and the London Symphony Orchestra offer performances that are admirable in quality of execution and tonal beauty. The recorded sound is first-rate, conveying the brightness of Harbach’s sound world without a hint of glare or stridency. Fine program notes (by the composer?) round out this admirable project. If you enjoy Barbara Harbach’s music, you don’t need my recommendation of this disc. If you are unfamiliar with Harbach’s work, and are interested in contemporary orchestral music couched in an individual, communicative, and lovely idiom, I am sure you will find much to enjoy. Recommended.”
Ken Meltzer, Fanfare [May/June 2020]

“Barbara Harbachexhibits a very strong lyrical impulse with a gift for composing melodic lines that stay in the memory. The performances seem committed and are certainly well played, and the recorded sound is natural and clean. The composer’s notes are helpful and informative. This is a disc of refreshingly enjoyable new orchestral music.”
Henry Fogel, Fanfare [May/June 2020]

“Her energy is seemingly inexhaustible, and I am glad to report that her musical imagination sustains a high level of exuberance, invention, melodic attractiveness, and curiosity about new themes and musical languages. This enjoyable disc is evidence of all those things, and the performances under David Angus leading a somewhat reduced London Philharmonic are everything they should be—warmly recommended.”
Huntley Dent, Fanfare [May/June 2020]

“Barbara Harbach’s music continues to impress; her voice is original, her fertility seemingly unending.”
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [May/June 2020]

“This splendid recording by the London Philharmonic Orchestra of four richly romantic works written by Barbara Harbach in 2017 shows off her virtuosity as an orchestrator and the LPO’s virtuosity as an orchestra. Harbach’s subtle, evocative and colourful handling of the range of musical influences she incorporates seamlessly and organically into the score reflects her scholar’s knowledge of the music of the time and her fine recordings of Bach.The sensuous longings of Arabesque noir…are made out of decorative graces and flourishes, overflowing with excellent brass solos and haunting xylophone touches, featuring a wonderful, too brief violin solo in the third movement.The sound, recorded in Cadogan Hall, London, is particularly flattering to the winds and brass, while the detailed booklet notes could almost substitute for the musical score.”
Laurence Vittes, Gramophone [May 2020]

“Barbara Harbach has long since established her own way of using the orchestra for expressive purposes… Suite Luther is the most interesting of the pieces here, building its five movements on three of Martin Luther’s hymns… The comparative familiarity of Ein’ feste Burg helps make Suite Luther approachable and intelligible – this hymn appears in three of the five movements – and Harbach finds some interesting ways to develop her material… the work [is] understandable and emotionally satisfying, and its mixture of contemporary rhythms and harmonies with those of earlier times produces a sense both of updating and of continuity with the past. The three other suites on this disc [are] very well-played throughout by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under David Angus… Harbach is a skilled orchestrator”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [March 2020]

“After [listening] that for a few hours, I sought words to properly describe her sonic poetic art… She has indeed greatly expanded the musical possibilities for telling stories in sound rather than in words. Her music is also very enjoyable because it composed out of her appreciation and respect for the musical traditions from the 18th and 19th centuries. She obviously did not abandon them for the acrimony of contemporary-style music that tends to reflect our troubled world. Her compositions are beautifully performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.”
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [March 2020]

“The prolific Barbara Harbach has a good number of releases of her music on MSR [and her latest] has caught my ear in good ways and so I report in on it for you… The first thing you might notice on hearing the program is how the music comes alive thanks to the very fine performances of the London Philharmonic Orchestra under David Angus… All four works have substance and girth… Harbach orchestrates with a flair and a nice sense of the totality… winds and brass nicely balance strings throughout. She has a subtle way. She clearly knows what she is after and gets it… an unassuming and open expression [flows] naturally and assuredly… [Harbach’s works] hold much interest even after hearing a good number of times as I have done this past week. Barbara Harbach shows off some genuine talent here. This is one good showing and I do not hesitate to recommend it to you if you are someone who wants to be abreast of what is happening right now, or simply wants to hear good music.”
Grego Applegate Edwards [February 2020]