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The Harpsichord In The New Millennium

Harpsichord / Dibello / Olszewski
Release Date: 04/13/2010 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1180   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako HirabayashiGina DibelloGail Olszewski
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HIRABAYASHI Siciliano 1,2. Fandango 1,2. Harpsichord Sonatina No. 2 1. Moments 2. Moments II 1. Moments III 1,2. Scherzo 1,3. Elegy 1,3. Tango 1,3. Read more Suite for Children 1,2. Dance 1. Sonatina for Violin and Harpsichord 1,2. Vocalise 1,2. Street Music 1,2 1 Asako Hirabayashi (hpd); 2 Gina DiBello (vn); 3 Gail Olszewski (fp) ALBANY 1180 (70:52)



Composer Asako Hirabayashi is also a concert harpsichordist, so it’s only natural that she would want to write for her chosen instrument. Although triumphantly resurrected, the harpsichord is still mostly heard in recordings of Baroque music, so whenever a contemporary composer adds to its literature it’s a welcome event. While others have contributed the occasional suite or fancy, Hirabayashi makes her recorded debut with an entire mini-repertoire: 24 tracks of passionate, sparkling, lyrical, even poignant music to help secure the harpsichord’s presence in the new millennium. In addition to variety of mood there’s a mix of styles, all assimilated with easy aplomb.


As was her illustrious predecessor, Scarlatti, Hirabayashi is enamored of Spanish music. She nicely captures the rhythmic vivacity and melodic pungency of the genre, sometimes injecting a dollop of tongue-in-cheek humor, as in her Tango for fortepiano and harpsichord. The piece lovingly incorporates every familiar twist and turn, from sinuous syncopation to nostalgic melancholy. Her Fandango for violin and harpsichord seems less tied to any particular model. Its overt dramatics are softened by a lilting waltz that interrupts ferociously slashing violin episodes. While the Tango doesn’t stray far from type—that’s not intended as a criticism; the piece is a delightful pastiche—the Fandango sometimes experiments with modern harmonies. (Hirabayashi’s colleagues, violinist Gina DiBello and fortepianist Gail Olszewski, are completely in synch with the music and their sympathetic performances are everywhere virtuosic, rhapsodic, and utterly convincing.) Other nods to modernism can be heard in the jaunty, satiric (as in Prokofiev) Scherzo for fortepiano and harpsichord or the Scherzando from the Sonatina No. 2, in both the solo and harpsichord/violin versions.


Several stylistic traits recur throughout Hirabayashi’s music, for example the use of flowing patterns as accompanying figures, sometimes reminiscent of Impressionism’s two most prominent representatives, Ravel and Debussy; forceful repetition of chords to induce tension and build effective climaxes; a distinctive, rather sweet melodic voice, heard to advantage in such pieces as the opening Siciliano; and a tendency to end a piece with a sudden halt, rather than by soothing or resolving cadences. One of the many CD highlights is the Elegy for fortepiano and harpsichord, in which the delicate solo harpsichord line, in tandem with the more complex fortepiano part, briefly put me in mind of one of Bach’s keyboard concertos. The Suite for Children , while sophisticated in its effects—for example, the unexpected pizzicatos from the violin or the slightly quirky Gavotte and the jazzy chord that ends the same movement—charms with unaffected sincerity. Asako Hirabayashi aims to please with her music and it pleases me to say that she’s succeeded in this diverse, entertaining, stimulating collection that most music lovers, not just harpsichordists, should enjoy.


FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
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Works on This Recording

1. Siciliano for Violin and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
2. Fandango for Violin and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
3. Sonatina for Harpsichord no 2 by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
4. Moments I for Violin by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
5. Moments II for Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
6. Moments III for Violin and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
7. Scherzo for Piano and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gail Olszewski (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
8. Elegy for Piano and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gail Olszewski (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
9. Tango for Piano and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gail Olszewski (Piano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
10. Suite for Children for Violin and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
11. Dance for Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
12. Sonatina for Harpsichord no 1 by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2001; Japan 
13. Vocalise for Violin and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 
14. Street Music for Violin and Harpsichord by Asako Hirabayashi
Performer:  Asako Hirabayashi (Harpsichord), Gina Dibello (Violin)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: Japan 

Sound Samples

Siciliano for Violin and Harpsichord
Fandango for Violin and Harpsichord
Harpsichord Sonatina No. 2: II. Scherzando
Harpsichord Sonatina No. 2: III. Sentimento
Harpsichord Sonatina No. 2: IV. Fuoco
Moments I
Moments II
Moments III
Scherzo for Fortepiano and Harpsichord
Elegy for Fortepiano and Harpsichord
Tango for Fortepiano and Harpsichord
Suite for Children for Violin and Harpsichord: I. Canon
Suite for Children for Violin and Harpsichord: II. Waltz
Suite for Children for Violin and Harpsichord: III. Gavotte
Suite for Children for Violin and Harpsichord: IV. Sicilliano
Suite for Children for Violin and Harpsichord: V. Chorale
Dance for Harpsichord
Sonatina for Violin and Harpsichord: I. Tempo Rubato
Sonatina for Violin and Harpsichord: II. Scherzando
Sonatina for Violin and Harpsichord: III. Sentimento
Sonatina for Violin and Harpsichord: IV. Fuoco
Vocalise for Violin and Harpsichord
Street Music for Violin and Harpsichord

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