Music of America: Samuel Barber

The Music of America: Samuel Barber

     
 

For a number of reasons, Sony's three-disc release of music by Samuel Barber in honor of his centenary year makes a terrific introduction for listeners new to his work and has a lot to offer to his devoted fans. To begin with, the selection of pieces (which are presented mostly in order of composition) is about as close to ideal as possible; it offers a representative…  See more details below

Overview

For a number of reasons, Sony's three-disc release of music by Samuel Barber in honor of his centenary year makes a terrific introduction for listeners new to his work and has a lot to offer to his devoted fans. To begin with, the selection of pieces (which are presented mostly in order of composition) is about as close to ideal as possible; it offers a representative sampling of his most important works that's well-balanced in its range of genres and in spanning his career. Devotees may quibble over the omission of a favorite piece, the 1962 "Piano Concerto" being the most obvious, but it would be hard to argue that there is anything included here that is not central to the Barber canon. Another virtue of the set is the use of historical recordings, the earliest being the song "Dover Beach," featuring the young composer as baritone soloist, from 1935. Other significant historical performances include the first recording of the 1949 "Piano Sonata" with Vladimir Horowitz, who premiered the work, and a recording of the first performance of "Hermit Songs," featuring Leontyne Price with Barber as accompanist, made at the Library of Congress in 1953. All of the performances are of a very high quality, and while they may not necessarily be the definitive accounts of a piece (Price's 1954 studio recording of "Hermit Songs" is more polished and assured, for instance), they are never less than outstanding. The recordings from the 1960s with Thomas Schippers, one of Barber's most insightful interpreters, include "Overture to The School of Scandal," the "Second Essay for Orchestra," "Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance," "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," and two scenes from "Antony and Cleopatra," the last two with Price as soloist. Among later performances that stand out are the "String Quartet," featuring the Tokyo String Quartet, and "Sure on this shining night" with Marilyn Horne and Martin Katz. Not inappropriately, the set includes three versions of "Adagio for Strings," the original for string quartet, the familiar orchestral version, and Barber's 1967 choral arrangement, Agnus Dei. The sound varies considerably, given the fact that the recordings were made over a period of almost 60 years, and in a variety of live and studio settings, but it is always at least acceptable and in fact adds to the collection's interest as a document of Barber's long and remarkable career.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/08/2010
Label:
Masterworks
UPC:
0886977027826
catalogNumber:
770278

Tracks

  1. Agnus Dei, for chorus (arr. from 2nd mvt. of String Quartet), Op. 11  - Samuel Barber  -  Trinity College Choir, Cambridge  - Roxanne Slimak
  2. Antony and Cleopatra, opera, Op. 40: Give Me My Robe  - Samuel Barber  - William Shakespeare  - Leontyne Price  -  New Philharmonia Orchestra  - Thomas Schippers  - Roxanne Slimak
  3. Antony and Cleopatra, opera, Op. 40: Give Me Some Music  - Samuel Barber  - William Shakespeare  - Leontyne Price  -  New Philharmonia Orchestra  - Thomas Schippers  - Roxanne Slimak
  4. Vanessa, opera, Op. 32: Must the Winter Come So Soon?  - Samuel Barber  - Gian Carlo Menotti  - Steven Blier  -  Members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra  - Roxanne Slimak  - Frederica Von Stade
  5. Sure on this shining night, song for voice & piano (also arr. for voice, orch, chorus & piano), Op. 13/3  - Samuel Barber  - James Agee  - Marilyn Horne  - Martin Katz  - Roxanne Slimak
  6. Nocturne, song for voice & piano (also arr. for voice & orch.), Op. 13/4  - Samuel Barber  - Leontyne Price  - David Garvey  - Frederic Prokosch  - Roxanne Slimak
  7. I Hear an Army, song for voice & piano, Op. 10/3  - Samuel Barber  - Marilyn Horne  - James Joyce  - Martin Katz  - Roxanne Slimak
  8. Hermit Songs, for voice & piano, Op. 29  - Samuel Barber  - Samuel Barber  - Leontyne Price  - Wystan Hugh Auden  - Howard Mumford Jones  - Chester Kallman  - Sean O'Faolain  - Roxanne Slimak  - Kenneth Jackson
  9. Knoxville: Summer of 1915, for high voice & orchestra (rev. for voice & chamber orchestra), Op. 24  - Samuel Barber  - Leontyne Price  - James Agee  -  New Philharmonia Orchestra  - Thomas Schippers  - Roxanne Slimak
  10. Sonata for piano, Op. 26  - Samuel Barber  - Vladimir Horowitz  - Roxanne Slimak
  11. Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance (from "Medea"), Op. 23a  - Samuel Barber  -  New York Philharmonic  - Thomas Schippers  - Roxanne Slimak
  12. Second Essay, for orchestra, Op. 17  - Samuel Barber  -  New York Philharmonic  - Thomas Schippers  - Roxanne Slimak
  13. Violin Concerto, Op. 14  - Samuel Barber  - Leonard Bernstein  -  New York Philharmonic  - Roxanne Slimak  - Isaac Stern
  14. Adagio for strings (or string quartet; arr. from 2nd mvt. of String Quartet), Op. 11  - Samuel Barber  - Leonard Bernstein  -  New York Philharmonic  - Roxanne Slimak
  15. String Quartet in B major, Op. 11  - Samuel Barber  - Roxanne Slimak  -  Tokyo String Quartet
  16. Symphony No. 1, Op. 9  - Samuel Barber  -  Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra  - Leonard Slatkin  - Roxanne Slimak
  17. Dover Beach, for baritone (or mezzo-soprano) & string quartet, Op. 3  - Samuel Barber  - Samuel Barber  - Matthew Arnold  - Roxanne Slimak  -  Curtis String Quartet
  18. The School for Scandal, overture for orchestra, Op. 5  - Samuel Barber  -  New York Philharmonic  - Thomas Schippers  - Roxanne Slimak

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