- Symphony No. 2, Op.19
- Essay for orchestra, Op. 12
- The School for Scandal, overture for orchestra, Op. 5
- Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
Barber: School for Scandal, Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2by Marin Alsop
Sometimes the composer doesn't know best. If Samuel Barber had his way, his Second Symphony would be lost to us, all copies of the score destroyed. Fortunately, this vividly dramatic World War II-era work was rediscovered after Barber's death in 1981, allowing us to savor the melodic invention and rhythmic propulsion of a great American symphony. Its slow movement, an evocation of nocturnal flight, contains some of Barber's most lovely music alongside his popular "Adagio for Strings" and Violin Concerto. Always a romantic at heart, Barber found little acceptance among the severe avant-garde establishment of the postwar years, but his lyrical inspiration ensured his success with audiences. This exhilarating recording of Barber's two symphonies launches what promises to be a much-needed collection of his complete works for orchestra. Marin Alsop, always a vigorous proponent of her nation's music, is at the helm of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, which captures the American idiom with no difficulties. The concise First Symphony was one of the pieces that launched the young composer's career, its single movement encompassing a scurrying scherzo and a poetic slow section before reaching a powerful, cathartic conclusion. Alongside the symphonies, this volume includes two other early works: the "School for Scandal" Overture, overflowing with sparkling wit, and the more earnest "First Essay," which shows Barber experimenting to create a highly original and personal musical form. With outstanding performances and a budget price tag, this album offers an irresistible opportunity to become better acquainted with one of America's great musical masters.
- Release Date:
- Naxos American
Performance CreditsMarin Alsop Primary Artist
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Marin Alsop is rapidly becoming one of our major conductors: she now holds the post of Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony in the UK and guest conducts around the world. Fortunately for us she shows a penchant for the music of American composers and for the works of Samuel Barber in particular. In a recent guest conducting appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic she brought the audience to their feet with an impassioned, exquisitely detailed, richly romantic reading of the Barber Symphony No. 1. Though everyone knows Barber's near National anthem 'Adagio for Strings', his 'School for Scandal Overture', and his opera 'Vanessa', too few know the brilliance of his Symphonies. Here on one disc Marin Alsop delivers excellent readings of both symphonies in addition to the School for Scandal Overture and the First Essay for Orchestra. Alsop goes for the mighty sweep in Barber's lines, here calling for more power than the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the recording technicians can deliver. But careful repeated listenings prove that the values abundant here are in place and honored. True, the 'Overture' is less effervescent than with Bernstein or Schippers, but without the rush to the finish line the inner voices are more clear and caressed. The 'First Essay' may not have the immediate impact that Barber's 'Second Essay' has, but Alsop makes the piece sing more strongly than most conductors. Clearly Barber is in her blood and she will doubtless become the preeminent conductor of this important American composer's works. Note: Alsop recently proved that her passionate yet magisterial conducting gifts are not limited to Barber: her Tchaikovsky 'Francesca di Rimini' and her sensitive collaboration with Lang Lang (no easy assignment!) on the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in her Los Angeles appearance were immensely impressive. This CD is a treasure, especially at this bargain price. And what a fine way to be introduced to Marin Alsop!