Hester Parks new classical release, Sonatas by Elizabeth, highlights keyboard music by eighteenth century composers Elisabetta de Gambarini and Elizabeth Hardin. The harpsichord CD features the musical talents of Barbara Harbach, performer on over a dozen solo compact discs and several chamber discs with such labels as Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, and Northeastern Records. This is her first release on the Hester Park label.
Elisabetta de Gambarini (1731-1765) was a well-known English composer, soprano, and orchestra conductor. This recording showcases her Six Sonatas for Harpsichord. These sonatas are challenging works with compelling harmonic patterns and ornamented melodies. Each sonata ends with a gigue-type movement that shows the Baroque spirit at its frolicking best.
When these sonatas were originally published, there were approximately 213 subscribers listed, which included Sig. G. F. Handel, various Dukes, Lords, Sirs and Barons as well as Misses, Mrs., and Captains.
Also appearing on this disc are Elizabeth Hardins Six Lessons for Harpsichord, originally published in the 1770s. These sonatas were equally notable in their success upon publication. Each of the six lessons utilizes a two-voiced texture with engaging melodies, driving sixteenth note rhythms, and cross-hand virtuosity.
The skills of both Gambarini and Hardin as vocalists and keyboardists were appreciated in the private and public salons of their day. In this sense, they were typical of many of the women who came from musical families, and who became virtuosic composers and performers while still young.
This 73 minute all-digital recording is a result of Harbachs research into the lives and music of too-seldom-recognized historical women composers. This music is available in printed editions (edited by Harbach) from Vivace Press, the parent company of Hester Park.
Harbach is recognized as a pioneer in research on women composers. Her 1986 edition Women Composers for the Harpsichord with Elkan-Vogel (Theodore Presser) was one of the first in the world to document music by historical women. Harbach is Professor of Music at Washington State University and the founder and Editor of Women of Note Quarterly. She is also known as host of the weekly television music series Palouse Performance seen on Northwest Public Television.
Sonatas by Elizabeth, available for $15.98, offers delights for the general classical music listener as well as those interested in womens issues. To order this disc or for more information, call 800-543-5429 or write to PO Box 157, Readfield, WI 54969.