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Posted October 1, 2010
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!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.