Barber: Capricorn Concerto, etc.

Barber: Capricorn Concerto, etc.

by Marin Alsop


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Barber: Capricorn Concerto, etc.

Winding up her highly acclaimed series of Samuel Barber's orchestral works, Marin Alsop has saved some lesser-known gems for last. In fact, considering how underrepresented all of these works are on disc, this might be the most essential volume in the whole six-disc cycle. Barber's lively Capricorn Concerto alone is worth Naxos' budget price. This is an atypical work for Barber, its spiky neo-Classicism suggesting Stravinsky, while its instrumentation -- for solo trumpet, oboe, and flute, with string orchestra -- pays direct homage to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. The playful Mutations from Bach, scored for brass and timpani, also shows the Baroque composer's importance for Barber. The oboist heard in the Capricorn Concerto, Stéphane Rancourt, gets another solo outing in Barber's final composition, a Canzonetta for oboe and strings that could have been the centerpiece of a full concerto had Barber lived to complete it. This music's yearning lyricism is recognizably the work of the composer of the famous Adagio for Strings, a kinship that is also evident in another late work, the delicate and oddly titled (after James Joyce) Fadograph of a Yestern Scene. Barber's versatility takes another turn in A Hand of Bridge -- a jazzy comic opera, just ten minutes long, that exposes the hidden obsessions of four characters who are ostensibly engaged in a friendly game of cards -- while his most successful opera, Vanessa, is represented by a gorgeously lush Intermezzo salvaged from its last act. Spanning the second half of Barber's career, this program adds up to much more than the sum of its parts, with Alsop convincingly following every twist and turn of the composer's imagination, just as she has throughout this superb series of recordings.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/22/2005
Label: Naxos American
UPC: 0636943913529
catalogNumber: 8559135


  1. Fadograph of a Yestern Scene, for orchestra (after Joyce: "Finnegan's Wake"), Op. 44
  2. Canzonetta for oboe & piano (arr. for oboe & strings by C. Turner), Op. 48 posth.
  3. Intermezzo (from Vanessa), for orchestra
  4. Mutations from Bach (on "Christe, Du Lamm Gottes"), for brass ensemble & timpani
  5. A Hand of Bridge, chamber opera, Op. 35
  6. Capricorn Concerto, for flute, oboe, trumpet & strings, Op. 21

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