Eighteenth Century Women Composers for the Harpsichord or Piano, Vol. I

By Elisabetta de Gambarini, Maria Hester Park, A Lady (Ed. Barbara Harbach)

Elisabetta de Gambarini - Aria, Gavotte and Variations Excerpt
Maria Hester Park - Gigue Sonata in F Major
A Lady - Lesson VI in D Major

Catalogue Number: H1801
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This volume contains Elisabetta de Gambarini‚Äôs (1731-1765) Aria, Gavotte and Variations, and Gigue written on “Lover, Go and Calm thy Sighs.” It also includes Sonata in F Major by Maria Hester Park (1760-1813) and Lesson VI in D Major by A Lady. Until publication in this series, this music was available only to those with access to one of a few libraries in the world. “The covers are attractive, the paper good, the commentary professional, the editing clean, and the music well laid out on the page. Best of all, the music sounds as good as it looks” Piano & Keyboard.
Recorded on compact disc recordings Gasparo CD 281 and CD 272.

Elisabetta de Gambarini (1731-1765) was an English composer, soprano, and orchestra conductor. She published three volumes of harpsichord music. “Variations on ‘Lover, Go and Calm thy Sighs”‘ is from Lessons for the Harpsichord, Intermix’d with Italian and English Songs, Opus 2 (1748). The vocal slurs in the aria have been added to ease performance and adhere to modern notational standards.

Maria Hester Park (1775 – 1822) was an English composer, pianist, and singer. At the age of ten, she made her piano debut during an oratorio interval at Drury Lane. At fifteen, she made her singing debut at the Gloucester Festival, and she sang frequently in London concerts and festivals for the next twenty-five years. She composed at least 13 opus numbers, though several have been lost. Attaching opus numbers to music is rare in English women keyboard composers of this time; it suggests Miss Park’s seriousness and dedication to composition. She retired from composing at forty, when she married.

Sonata I in F Major is the first of two sonatas from Park’s Opus 4, dedicated to the Duchess of Devonshire. The first movement, Allegro, is a two-part form with each part repeated. It opens with a lyrical theme, but elements of Sturm und Drang emerge before a return to its more lyrical temperament. The second movement, Tempo di Minuetto, is a three-part form with an agitated middle section in the parallel minor (F minor) bracketed by two sections in F major.

A Lady flourished in the 18th century. She likely fits the social profile of other women composers of the time. For some reason, though, she chose to remain anonymous, perhaps because her family considered composition an inappropriate occupation for a lady. No biographical information or details regarding this publication exist, but her Six Lessons for Harpsichord attest to her talent and intelligence.

“Lessons” is a generic term used for English keyboard sonatas. A Lady’s Lessons are generally in three movements: an opening Allegro, followed by a Largo in a minor key and third movements in varying styles. Lesson VI in D Major, however, opens with a short Largo in the French overture style. The Allegro begins with a rising, arpeggiated melody that returns throughout the movement, and it features dramatic pauses on the dominant chord, a short episode in the relative minor, and energetic sixteenth note passages. The Minuet, a two-part repeated form, uses innovative and irregular phrasing to achieve its lilting melody. It balances the nearly constant motion of eighth notes with a short adagio ending.


Historical Keyboard