Author Topic: The Barber Chair  (Read 46616 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #240 on: November 04, 2019, 04:29:36 PM »
Bump for Sam Barber, a great composer...?

I am getting into his music slowly, here and there. I have not heard many of his pieces, but those I have heard I do like much. The Piano Concerto is probably my favorite of his works, the slow movement is amazing. I also quite like the first symphony, which I heard he modeled after Sibelius' 7th, and I can see it (there is something of Sibelius in almost every American and English composer who came after him). I just heard and enjoyed the tone poem Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance. And then I really like Excursions as played by Vladimir Horowitz, though I need to hear it in more modern sound. The works I am most curious to hear next are the violin concerto, Knoxville, and the string quartet(s?) – I think he is a very talented and perhaps underlooked composer. There is something of Ravel in him. He really understands the value of beauty and purity in music. He is one of few American composers that I have a serious interest in. I'm looking to up that number, being that I am an American myself, but I will start where I already have some footing.

Anyway, recommendations for good recordings of the violin concerto and Knoxville would be appreciated. Has anyone been listening to Sam Barber lately?

Alright! And, now, you’re getting into another one of my favorite composers. I think a lot of what you said is true that Barber’s music is beautiful and this is what makes his music so attractive, but there are plenty of emotional moments in his music and many pieces that are also quite haunting. For Excursions and his other piano works, I’d check out John Browning’s recording on the Music Masters label (sadly, out-of-print but I imagine you can find it cheaply). The Dawn Upshaw/David Zinman recording of Knoxville: Summer of 1915 has not been bettered, IMHO. Hilary Hahn’s recording of the Violin Concerto is, hands down, my favorite of all the performances I’ve heard, so seek her recording out (it’s coupled with a less memorable concerto from Edgar Meyer). I would also check out his Cello Concerto and the best recording I’ve of this work has been with Anne Gastinel on Naive (I’m not sure if it’s OOP, but it’s worth seeking) and if you can’t find that recording for a decent price then the BIS recording with Christian Poltéra with Andrew Litton is definitely a great purchase (the Cello Concerto is coupled with the early Cello Sonata and it’s also a remarkable work). Barber only composed one SQ. Also, the songs are worth getting, especially the Thomas Hampson set on Deutsche Grammophon. For the symphonies (two in all), Marin Alsop will fit the bill nicely. Don’t forget about the opera, Vanessa and works like The Lovers and Prayers of Kierkegaard. All of the Essays for Orchestra should be essential listens as well. Anyway, I love Barber’s music and if you can find it or stream it, then check out the documentary, Absolute Beauty. This is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen on any composer. Much ground is covered and I believe you’ll come a way with a better understanding of the composer.

Special edit: Man, now I want to listen to some Barber! Thanks a lot! It’s all your fault! ;) ;D
« Last Edit: November 04, 2019, 04:34:31 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #241 on: November 04, 2019, 04:46:57 PM »
Alright! And, now, you’re getting into another one of my favorite composers. I think a lot of what you said is true that Barber’s music is beautiful and this is what makes his music so attractive, but there are plenty of emotional moments in his music and many pieces that are also quite haunting. For Excursions and his other piano works, I’d check out John Browning’s recording on the Music Masters label (sadly, out-of-print but I imagine you can find it cheaply). The Dawn Upshaw/David Zinman recording of Knoxville: Summer of 1915 has not been bettered, IMHO. Hilary Hahn’s recording of the Violin Concerto is, hands down, my favorite of all the performances I’ve heard, so seek her recording out (it’s coupled with a less memorable concerto from Edgar Meyer). I would also check out his Cello Concerto and the best recording I’ve of this work has been with Anne Gastinel on Naive (I’m not sure if it’s OOP, but it’s worth seeking) and if you can’t find that recording for a decent price then the BIS recording with Christian Poltéra with Andrew Litton is definitely a great purchase (the Cello Concerto is coupled with the early Cello Sonata and it’s also a remarkable work). Barber only composed one SQ. Also, the songs are worth getting, especially the Thomas Hampson set on Deutsche Grammophon. For the symphonies (two in all), Marin Alsop will fit the bill nicely. Don’t forget about the opera, Vanessa and works like The Lovers and Prayers of Kierkegaard. All of the Essays for Orchestra should be essential listens as well. Anyway, I love Barber’s music and if you can find it or stream it, then check out the documentary, Absolute Beauty. This is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen on any composer. Much ground is covered and I believe you’ll come a way with a better understanding of the composer.

Special edit: Man, now I want to listen to some Barber! Thanks a lot! It’s all your fault! ;) ;D

Thanks for the detailed response! Go listen to some Barber now, then!  :P

I have the Alsop disc with the symphonies and I like it, though I haven't yet heard the 2nd symphony. I'll have to check out the other recordings you mention. I'm a big fan of the Upshaw/Zinman Górecki 3rd, so I am well aware of the potency of that combo, that sounds like a winner. As for Ms. Hahn, I think at this rate I might as well just buy the Sony white 5CD box with her complete recordings for that label, sounds like there is a lot of great stuff on it. The documentary you mention also sounds great. I'll have to check it out.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #242 on: November 04, 2019, 04:52:28 PM »
Thanks for the detailed response! Go listen to some Barber now, then!  :P

I have the Alsop disc with the symphonies and I like it, though I haven't yet heard the 2nd symphony. I'll have to check out the other recordings you mention. I'm a big fan of the Upshaw/Zinman Górecki 3rd, so I am well aware of the potency of that combo, that sounds like a winner. As for Ms. Hahn, I think at this rate I might as well just buy the Sony white 5CD box with her complete recordings for that label, sounds like there is a lot of great stuff on it. The documentary you mention also sounds great. I'll have to check it out.

You’re welcome. Yeah, that Hilary Hahn box set seems like a good way to acquire some of her best work. The problem with Barber’s discography is so many of the great performances are spread out on different labels and there’s not one box that’ll capture it all, but this really could be said of any composer.
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Offline André

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #243 on: November 04, 2019, 05:27:40 PM »
I listened to Knoxville this week (Jill Gomez/Richard Hickox), and ordered the Gauvin/Alsop on Naxos. It has the Toccata festiva, and also the 2nd and 3rd Essay for Orchestra. I already have Alsop’s disc of the symphonies and First Essay, so that will round off that section of his output. For the piano and violin concertos I very much like the Telarc disc.

I wish I could be enthusiastic about getting the Upshaw Knoxville, but it is inconguously and most ungenerously coupled IMO. Maybe it will surface in another incarnation some day. Meanwhile, Price and Steber are very much to my taste. Both ladies worked with the composer (Steber had commissioned the work), and give beautiful accounts of this masterpiece. I especially treasure Price’s wide-eyed, androgynous way with the text. She evokes classic films that celebrate childhood innocence like Night of the Hunter or To Kill a Mockingbird.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #244 on: November 04, 2019, 05:30:54 PM »
I listened to Knoxville this week (Jill Gomez/Richard Hickox), and ordered the Gauvin/Alsop on Naxos. It has the Toccata festiva, and also the 2nd and 3rd Essay for Orchestra. I already have Alsop’s disc of the symphonies and First Essay, so that will round off that section of his output. For the piano and violin concertos I very much like the Telarc disc.

I wish I could be enthusiastic about getting the Upshaw Knoxville, but it is inconguously and most ungenerously coupled IMO. Maybe it will surface in another incarnation some day. Meanwhile, Price and Steber are very much to my taste. Both ladies worked with the composer (Steber had commissioned the work), and give beautiful accounts of this masterpiece. I especially treasure Price’s wide-eyed, androgynous way with the text. She evokes classic films that celebrate childhood innocence like Night of the Hunter or To Kill a Mockingbird.

But you can find the Upshaw/Zinman recording cheaply these days so buying it just for Knoxville isn’t a big deal.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #245 on: September 11, 2021, 04:27:06 AM »



I have just finished listening to the above album. It is basically by way of introduction for me to Barber's music. I have found it to be a wonderful journey.


Knoxville 

A fellow member here recommended that I begin, by way of introduction to this composer, with Knoxville. That recommendation, coupled with the directorship of Alsop, has led me here. I immediately liked the tone and orchestration of Knoxville. It is exciting, atmospheric, poignant and very engaging. One can not but be enchanted by the wonderful voice of Gauvin who performs more than admirably here. The vocal and orchestral elements are very well balanced in a very fine recording. The musical language is very engaging. This is indeed a very fine work.


Second Essay for Orchestra
 
I really like this work. The musical language is very interesting and engaging and the scoring is both powerful and gripping. This is powerful music and music making. The scoring for the woodwinds is  wonderful. The music is very exciting and engaging and is well driven throughout. The powerful drive forward towards the conclusion is wonderfully relentless.


Third Essay for Orchestra

This is a very fine work and I took an immediate liking to it. I was initially attracted by the scoring which I felt was very imaginative. However, I was eventually drawn into the musical language which I found to be very engaging and which made for compelling listening. This presentation is powerful and would appear to be very sympathetic to this intriguing music.


Toccata Festiva Op. 36

This is quite an interesting, engaging and powerful work. I like the tone and the atmosphere of it; its span is from the lyrical to the tense and dramatic. The musical language is just wonderful!
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Offline Madiel

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #246 on: September 11, 2021, 11:15:42 AM »
As I mentioned on the WAYLTN thread, I think that Knoxville and the Essays are among Barber’s top works so that album is a great starting point.

Though there’s plenty of other good music waiting for you too!
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Offline aligreto

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #247 on: September 18, 2021, 05:08:23 AM »
Barber: Cello Concerto [Gastinel/Brown]





Other than the above Naxos CD I have only two other works by Barber and the Cello Concerto is one of those.

This is a really very fine work. The scoring is imaginative and inventive and I really like how the cello takes up and expands upon the opening orchestral phrases. The music and scoring are both expansive and this is well developed throughout the movement. The infusion of tension, drama and excitement is also very well done. The movement has a wonderfully powerful and satisfying conclusion. The slow movement is wonderfully scored. It is wonderfully lyrical with a keen sense of yearning. The music is powerfully emotionally engaging. Both Gastinel and Brown do it great justice. The music in the final movement is inventive and intriguing, powerful and absorbing. There is also something quirky about it. The movement and the work gradually builds towards a powerful and exciting resolution.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #248 on: September 18, 2021, 05:36:55 AM »
I listened to Knoxville this week (Jill Gomez/Richard Hickox), and ordered the Gauvin/Alsop on Naxos. It has the Toccata festiva, and also the 2nd and 3rd Essay for Orchestra. I already have Alsop’s disc of the symphonies and First Essay, so that will round off that section of his output. For the piano and violin concertos I very much like the Telarc disc.

I wish I could be enthusiastic about getting the Upshaw Knoxville, but it is inconguously and most ungenerously coupled IMO. Maybe it will surface in another incarnation some day. Meanwhile, Price and Steber are very much to my taste. Both ladies worked with the composer (Steber had commissioned the work), and give beautiful accounts of this masterpiece. I especially treasure Price’s wide-eyed, androgynous way with the text. She evokes classic films that celebrate childhood innocence like Night of the Hunter or To Kill a Mockingbird.
That Naxos CD featuring Knoxville and the Essays is one of my favourite Barber CDs.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #249 on: September 18, 2021, 09:31:49 AM »
That Naxos CD featuring Knoxville and the Essays is one of my favourite Barber CDs.

Yes, definitely a cracker!
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Offline aligreto

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #250 on: September 26, 2021, 04:24:21 AM »
Barber: Summer Music Op. 31





Very pleasant, atmospheric and evocative pastoral music.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #251 on: October 10, 2021, 07:45:06 AM »
I have just finished listening to this collection of Barber's music under the baton of Alsop:





Cello Concerto:

On first listen to this version of this work and I was not convinced by the entire performance. I felt that the cellist, Warner, was a very capable cellist but that her presentation lacked warmth, lyricism and fluidity. Alsop does a good enough job with the orchestral accompaniment but the whole presentation feels just a bit laboured to me. The recording is made in a somewhat dry acoustic.


Medea Ballet Suite:

This is my first listen to this music. I really like this work. I like the musical language, the orchestration and the wonderful atmosphere of the work. All of these elements contribute to a mixed variety of drama, tension, atmosphere, power, excitement and lyricism to the music. I find the work to be most engaging. I have no other version to compare it with but it seems to me that this is a very fine presentation.


Adagio for Strings:

Even if you are not familiar with the music of Barber you will have heard this music somewhere. The emotional strength of the work is derived from the wonderful melodic lines, harmonies and counterpoint, all of which are basic building blocks in the foundation of a very solid and serene work. I like this version; it is not overly emotional, sentimental or saccharine.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #252 on: October 10, 2021, 12:32:19 PM »
I first came across the Cello Concerto, brilliantly performed by Zara Nelsova with Barber conducting, on a fabulous old Decca Eclipse LP, where it was imaginatively coupled with Rawsthorne's equally fine Second Piano Concerto - if my memory is correct I bought in at a classical music record shop (they did once exist) near to South Kensington Underground Station. The Barber has been reissued on an excellent Naxos Historical CD:

« Last Edit: October 10, 2021, 12:36:18 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline aligreto

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #253 on: October 10, 2021, 01:19:53 PM »
I first came across the Cello Concerto, brilliantly performed by Zara Nelsova with Barber conducting, on a fabulous old Decca Eclipse LP, where it was imaginatively coupled with Rawsthorne's equally fine Second Piano Concerto - if my memory is correct I bought in at a classical music record shop (they did once exist) near to South Kensington Underground Station. The Barber has been reissued on an excellent Naxos Historical CD:


Good to know, Jeffrey. Thank you for the information and recommendation.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #254 on: October 10, 2021, 10:48:23 PM »
Good to know, Jeffrey. Thank you for the information and recommendation.
I think that you'd like the Naxos disc Fergus, if you don't already know it.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #255 on: October 11, 2021, 09:28:39 PM »
I have just finished listening to this collection of Barber's music under the baton of Alsop:





Cello Concerto:

On first listen to this version of this work and I was not convinced by the entire performance. I felt that the cellist, Warner, was a very capable cellist but that her presentation lacked warmth, lyricism and fluidity. Alsop does a good enough job with the orchestral accompaniment but the whole presentation feels just a bit laboured to me. The recording is made in a somewhat dry acoustic.


Medea Ballet Suite:

This is my first listen to this music. I really like this work. I like the musical language, the orchestration and the wonderful atmosphere of the work. All of these elements contribute to a mixed variety of drama, tension, atmosphere, power, excitement and lyricism to the music. I find the work to be most engaging. I have no other version to compare it with but it seems to me that this is a very fine presentation.


Adagio for Strings:

Even if you are not familiar with the music of Barber you will have heard this music somewhere. The emotional strength of the work is derived from the wonderful melodic lines, harmonies and counterpoint, all of which are basic building blocks in the foundation of a very solid and serene work. I like this version; it is not overly emotional, sentimental or saccharine.

I definitely remember liking Medea, which I only know thanks to the Alsop series.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The Barber Chair
« Reply #256 on: October 11, 2021, 10:27:48 PM »
I definitely remember liking Medea, which I only know thanks to the Alsop series.
Me too - though I have a number of recordings of it.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:29:34 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).