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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

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.

Product Details

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

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. The School for Scandal, overture for orchestra, Op. 5  (07:36)
  2. Dover Beach, for baritone (or mezzo-soprano) & string quartet, Op. 3  (07:52)
  3. Symphony No. 1, Op. 9

    1. Allegro ma non troppo  (07:09)
    2. Allegro molto  (04:17)
    3. Andante tranquillo  (05:15)
    4. Con moto (Passacaglia)  (04:58)
  4. String Quartet in B major, Op. 11

    1. 1. Molto allegro e appassionato  (08:00)
    2. 2. Molto adagio -  (08:06)
    3. Molto allegro (come prima)  (02:25)
  5. Adagio for strings (or string quartet; arr. from 2nd mvt. of String Quartet), Op. 11  (09:54)

Disc 2

  1. Violin Concerto, Op. 14

    1. 1. Allegro  (10:11)
    2. 2. Andante  (08:27)
    3. 3. Presto in moto perpetuo  (03:58)
  2. Second Essay, for orchestra, Op. 17  (10:45)
  3. Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance (from "Medea"), Op. 23a  (12:36)
  4. Sonata for piano, Op. 26

    1. 1. Allegro energico  (06:24)
    2. 2. Allegro vivace e leggero  (01:55)
    3. 3. Adagio mesto  (05:40)
    4. 4. Fuga: Allegro con spirito  (04:34)

Disc 3

  1. Knoxville: Summer of 1915, for high voice & orchestra (rev. for voice & chamber orchestra), Op. 24  (16:23)
  2. Hermit Songs, for voice & piano, Op. 29

    1. At Saint Patrick's Purgatory  (01:32)
    2. Church Bell at Night  (00:54)
    3. Saint Ita's vision  (03:04)
    4. The Heavenly Banquet  (01:17)
    5. The Crucufixion  (02:03)
    6. Sea-Snatch  (00:44)
    7. Promiscuity  (00:46)
    8. The Monk and His Cat  (02:14)
    9. The Praises of God  (00:56)
    10. The Desire for Hermitage  (03:26)
  3. I Hear an Army, song for voice & piano, Op. 10/3  (02:28)
  4. Nocturne, song for voice & piano (also arr. for voice & orch.), Op. 13/4  (03:28)
  5. Sure on this shining night, song for voice & piano (also arr. for voice, orch, chorus & piano), Op. 13/3  (02:38)
  6. Vanessa, opera, Op. 32: Must the Winter Come So Soon?

    1. Must the Winter Come So Soon?  (03:06)
  7. Antony and Cleopatra, opera, Op. 40: Give Me Some Music

    1. Give Me Some Music  (08:59)
  8. Antony and Cleopatra, opera, Op. 40: Give Me My Robe

    1. Give Me My Robe  (09:22)
  9. Agnus Dei, for chorus (arr. from 2nd mvt. of String Quartet), Op. 11  (09:33)

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