Friday, April 18, 2014

Anna Bon di Venezia: Harpsichord Sonatas a welcome rediscovery

Anna Bon di Venezia
Six Sonatas for Harpsichord, Op. 2
Barbara Harbach, harpsichord
MSR Classics

Anna Bon di Venezia is a somewhat mysterious figure -- very little is known about her, save that she, along with her parents (a stage manager and an opera singer) were hired by Count Esterhazy, where (presumably) they worked under his Kappellmeister, Franz Joseph Haydn.

Anna Bon published a set of flute sonatas, a set of keyboard sonatas, a set of trio sonatas before marrying and apparently retired from music.

The harpsichord sonatas, published in 1757, are fascinating. To my ears, they sound similar in style to the ones Haydn wrote around the same time. These are short, straight-forward works that are charming in their simplicity. Barbara Harbach performs them with delicacy and authority, bringing out the beauty and elegance of Bon's carefully crafted melodies.

These works, I think, compare favorably to contemporaneous sonatas by more famous composers. Recommended to anyone interested in early classical music.

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