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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Szykneij on August 13, 2007, 05:50:40 AM

Title: The Barber Chair
Post by: Szykneij on August 13, 2007, 05:50:40 AM
I've been listening to quite a bit of Samuel Barber lately and I don't think we have a thread going for him yet (or at least I've been unable to find one). I did go back and re-read the Barber thread on the old board and I think there's still a lot more that can be said about his music. I just discovered his piano concerto, and the slow movement now ranks among my favorites, second only to Knoxville: Summer of 1915 which has been mentioned by many as their top Barber piece. I also admire his violin concerto and wonder if anyone can recommend their favorite recordings. I have the Isaac Stern version with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on August 13, 2007, 06:01:25 AM
Coincidentally I was listening to Barber Symphony 2 this morning. Like Walton, he did not write that much, compared with some composers, but everything is of a very high standard.

My favourites are Symphony 1 and 2, Cello Concerto, Medea Suite,  Essay No 2 and Knoxville.

As for the fine Violin Concerto, I do not have a favourite version, although there was a great LP featuring William Strickland and the Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra playing Symphony 1 and the Violin Concerto which has sadly never been released on CD. It is my favourite recording of the Symphony and the VC was excellent too although I can't remember the soloist's name.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: sound67 on August 13, 2007, 06:11:05 AM
I also admire his violin concerto and wonder if anyone can recommend their favorite recordings. I have the Isaac Stern version with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

That's a good performance, too, but I favor these two more recent (and very different) ones:

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/61VzGzFm%2BRL._AA240_.jpg) (http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/I/61QVXFRCADL._AA240_.gif)

Both complement each other very nicely. The Hahn is the more intimate, more subtle - the Shaham the more obviously virtuosic, big-boned, on a larger canvas (also coupled with a superb reading of the Korngold Concerto). The Meyer Violin Concerto on the Hahn disc is a pleasant, neo-romantic work.

Thomas
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: scottscheule on August 13, 2007, 06:18:23 AM
I greatly approve of the title of the thread.

As to Barber's music, it's extraordinarily well-crafted.  The only piece of his I've tried to play was his Nocturne--which is just lovely in its complexity.  Of course the melody is gorgeous, but its run-through with tone rows (inverted and transposed), plus the whole thing is laid out in sonata form (with a masterful development that climaxes with a stirring simultaneous presentation of two motives).

I'm curious to hear his operas--I can't imagine Antony is as bad as all that.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on August 13, 2007, 06:22:40 AM
The only recording I've heard, Tony, is of James Oliver Buswell on the Naxos label;  I like it very well, but I should listen to another recording before application of the adjective "favorite" :-)

Also heard Mrs Keith Lockhardt (fie, but I never can remember her name) play this live in Jordan Hall. What delicious music!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on August 13, 2007, 08:03:49 AM
My favourite Barber CD (historic recordings):

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Barber-Symphony-No-2-Samuel/dp/B00005Q637/ref=sr_1_18/026-9426194-9976463?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1187024499&sr=1-18
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Brewski on August 13, 2007, 11:10:12 AM
Barber wrote some of my favorite pieces of music, e.g., Knoxville and the Violin Concerto.  For the former, I think Dawn Upshaw is just about ideal in the piece.  I've heard Leontyne Price, and she's very good, but Upshaw's voice seems a lighter, better fit for the material.

For the concerto, the one I first heard (and still love) is with Elmar Oliveira, Slatkin and St. Louis (originally coupled with Hanson's Symphony No. 4).  But Hilary Hahn's is excellent (I haven't listened much to the Meyer coupling). 

This is a good reminder that I need to replace an old LP of Barber's works conducted by Thomas Schippers.  It was my favorite version of the Adagio, and the first time I ever heard Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, as well as the Second Essay - wonderful works, all of them.  You don't see him programmed very much these days...

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51W8X3P9FVL._AA240_.jpg)

Oh and I did see a videotape of a performance of Antony and Cleopatra by the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1991, I believe) and have it lying around here somewhere.  I don't recall thinking it was "awful" by any means, but I've only heard it that one time.

--Bruce
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: sound67 on August 13, 2007, 11:20:52 AM
Barber wrote some of my favorite pieces of music, e.g., Knoxville and the Violin Concerto.  For the former, I think Dawn Upshaw is just about ideal in the piece.  I've heard Leontyne Price, and she's very good, but Upshaw's voice seems a lighter, better fit for the material.

I heard the piece live with buxom (ok, fat) American soprano Christine Brewer at last year's Proms. Very fine performance, indeed.

Dawn Upshaw fits the bill real nice, too.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Brewski on August 13, 2007, 11:46:58 AM
I heard the piece live with buxom (ok, fat) American soprano Christine Brewer at last year's Proms. Very fine performance, indeed.

Dawn Upshaw fits the bill real nice, too.

I would imagine Brewer would be excellent in that piece.  Just found this review (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev//2003/Sept03/barber_measham.htm) of a recording with Molly McGurk (new to me), and the writer mentions Netania Davrath, whom I agree would have been great in it.

--Bruce
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on August 13, 2007, 12:38:22 PM
Barber wrote some of my favorite pieces of music, e.g., Knoxville and the Violin Concerto.  For the former, I think Dawn Upshaw is just about ideal in the piece.  I've heard Leontyne Price, and she's very good, but Upshaw's voice seems a lighter, better fit for the material.

For the concerto, the one I first heard (and still love) is with Elmar Oliveira, Slatkin and St. Louis (originally coupled with Hanson's Symphony No. 4).  But Hilary Hahn's is excellent (I haven't listened much to the Meyer coupling). 


This is a good reminder that I need to replace an old LP of Barber's works conducted by Thomas Schippers.  It was my favorite version of the Adagio, and the first time I ever heard Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, as well as the Second Essay - wonderful works, all of them.  You don't see him programmed very much these days...

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51W8X3P9FVL._AA240_.jpg)

Oh and I did see a videotape of a performance of Antony and Cleopatra by the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1991, I believe) and have it lying around here somewhere.  I don't recall thinking it was "awful" by any means, but I've only heard it that one time.

--Bruce

 That Schippers CBS/Sony CD is great, I sought it out today. There was a v good David Measham Unicorn compilation, now on Regis, with a fine Symphony 1 and my own favourite Second Essay for Orchestra which is perhaps my favourite work by Barber, the last section is marvellous; a wonderfully inspiriting score.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Szykneij on August 20, 2007, 09:32:42 AM
(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/61VzGzFm%2BRL._AA240_.jpg)

Thomas -- Thanks for recommending this recording that I just picked up. I notice that Hahn's tempos are faster than Stern's for all three movements and I do prefer Stern's speed for movements I and II. (What appeals to me most about Barber's music is his harmonies and I usually find them more effective when they change more slowly.) Hahn's fingers really fly on the Presto, though, and her performance is most impressive. Her entrance in the second movement (Andante) after the prolonged orchestra introduction is also breathtaking. I like the Meyer piece, too, which was composed specifically for Hahn.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: drogulus on February 25, 2008, 01:30:15 PM


    It's time to refresh this topic. I have to report that the Alsop/Naxos disc is not particularly satisfying. A comparison of The School for Scandal Overture with Schippers/NYPO shows that Alsop takes it too slow and lacks the drive the piece requires. The First Essay is better, though not a match for Keith Clark/Pacific SO on the Albany CD of the Barber, Harris, and Copland compilation. So I can't recommend the Alsop CD for these works, though perhaps the 2 symphonies may make it worthwhile. I haven't really listened seriously to them yet. His symphonies are not among his best works IMO, or at least no performance of them has convinced me they are.

        I strongly second the recommendation of the Schippers CD, and also think the Clark/Pacific SO disc is worth it for the Barber First Essay and Capricorn Concerto. Also, the Albany disc has the Harris 6th, a remarkable work that should be better known.

(http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/full/04/42271.JPG)

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ephemerid on February 25, 2008, 01:45:21 PM
mmmhhhh Knoxville: Summer of 1915 my favourite Barber

About the violin concerto-- I forget the violinist who originally commissioned the work, but the violinist was extremely disappointed with the first two movements-- not very "show off" material, and he griped to Barber about it.  So Barber ended up writing that dizzying finale and then the violinist complained that it was unplayable.  I forget if Barber actually got the commission money, but he found another violinist to premiere the work.  LOL
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on February 25, 2008, 04:29:39 PM
I think Alsop's recordings are just fine. The Capricorn concerto on Naxos is just perfect. The only recordings that I think are truly lacking are the piano concerto and the violin concerto - The piano concerto is much better done by Browning (ne of my all time favourite recordings), and for the violin concerto my favourite recording is Kyoko Takezawa's, though there are many good recordings of the latter. The cello concerto on Naxos with Wendy Warner is easily the finest on record - I wrote a load on this on the old board and feel to demoralized to type it all again. Trust me on this one!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: drogulus on February 26, 2008, 03:41:07 PM


     This disc is well worth it for the inclusion of all three Essays, as well as the Adagio and School for Scandal Overture. You could do worse than start a Barber collection here:

(http://img261.imageshack.us/img261/7482/barberslatkinba3.jpg)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: johnQpublic on February 27, 2008, 10:31:02 AM
  The piano concerto is much better done by Browning (ne of my all time favourite recordings)

YES, and the flip side of the original LP (that I still own) is a terrific "Song of Orpheus" by Schuman.

The Dance of Vengence is truly an exciting work, eh?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: The new erato on February 27, 2008, 02:18:33 PM
mmmhhhh Knoxville: Summer of 1915 my favourite Barber

About the violin concerto-- I forget the violinist who originally commissioned the work, but the violinist was extremely disappointed with the first two movements-- not very "show off" material, and he griped to Barber about it.  So Barber ended up writing that dizzying finale and then the violinist complained that it was unplayable.  I forget if Barber actually got the commission money, but he found another violinist to premiere the work.  LOL
Interesting story, I find the finale of the concerto superficial and flashy and the main reason this is only a second-rank concerto for me.

And Knoxville is my favorite Barber work as well.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Szykneij on March 01, 2008, 01:06:37 PM
The cello concerto on Naxos with Wendy Warner is easily the finest on record - I wrote a load on this on the old board and feel to demoralized to type it all again. Trust me on this one!

I have the Raya Garbousova recording on Varese Sarabande, billed at the time (1978) as the ONLY AVAILABLE RECORDING - PERFORMED BY THE ARTIST WHO PREMIERED THE WORK. Garbousova played the piece for the first time in Boston in 1946 and championed the work through subsequent performances around the country. It is truly an excellent work and a fine performance. I'll look into getting the Wendy Warner recording.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on May 31, 2008, 03:03:24 PM
Unfortunately Garbousova was past her prime when she recorded that, so I definitely recommend getting the Wendy Warner recording in order to really feel the whole impact of the piece.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Lethevich on May 31, 2008, 04:01:54 PM
     This disc is well worth it for the inclusion of all three Essays, as well as the Adagio and School for Scandal Overture. You could do worse than start a Barber collection here:

(http://img261.imageshack.us/img261/7482/barberslatkinba3.jpg)

I also rate this disc highly, excellent choices and playing all-round.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on June 03, 2008, 04:51:19 AM
He looks like a chimp man (his left arm) because of the contrast on the photo!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: gomro on June 04, 2008, 02:15:48 AM
I've been listening to quite a bit of Samuel Barber lately and I don't think we have a thread going for him yet (or at least I've been unable to find one). I did go back and re-read the Barber thread on the old board and I think there's still a lot more that can be said about his music. I just discovered his piano concerto, and the slow movement now ranks among my favorites, second only to Knoxville: Summer of 1915 which has been mentioned by many as their top Barber piece. I also admire his violin concerto and wonder if anyone can recommend their favorite recordings. I have the Isaac Stern version with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

I've barely heard any Barber -- you can name the pieces, I'm sure -- but the title of this thread is the best one ever, as all these goofy titles go.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Christo on June 23, 2008, 05:52:25 PM
That Schippers CBS/Sony CD is great, I sought it out today. There was a v good David Measham Unicorn compilation, now on Regis, with a fine Symphony 1 and my own favourite Second Essay for Orchestra which is perhaps my favourite work by Barber, the last section is marvellous; a wonderfully inspiriting score.
`

Seconded, indeed everything you write!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on June 25, 2008, 12:50:34 PM
`

Seconded, indeed everything you write!

 :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Christo on June 25, 2008, 10:54:02 PM
:)

 ;) ;)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on September 11, 2008, 06:03:28 AM
Posthumous Barber premiere! (http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/28230589.html)

(Well, all right, it was performed once in 1928 . . . .)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on September 11, 2008, 08:49:41 AM
I wish I could have heard it! Hopefully someone will record it, and that To Longwood Gardens sounds very interesting too.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on November 03, 2008, 01:31:24 PM
A minor work, of course, but the Summer Music for Woodwind Quintet is lovely.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on November 03, 2008, 05:58:22 PM
So incredibly beautiful. I wouldnt say it was that minor really - it is brilliantly thought out, beautifully and imaginatively written, pithy and concise, but substantial enough to be satisfying too. Surely one of the best pieces in this genre (though I concede that within Barber's oevre it does not occupy the heights of say, Vanessa, the cello and piano concertos, Prayers of Kierkegaard etc. but it doesn't try to).
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on November 03, 2008, 06:01:01 PM
So incredibly beautiful. I wouldnt say it was that minor really - it is brilliantly thought out, beautifully and imaginatively written, pithy and concise, but substantial enough to be satisfying too. Surely one of the best pieces in this genre (wind quintet).

It answers to all your praise here.  I only mean minor in that it's but eleven minutes long.  I don't intend the quintet any slight  8)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on November 03, 2008, 06:03:30 PM
Fine!  ;D

There are few composer I am as passionate about, so watch out!  $:)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 04:30:20 AM
Besides, we can't have flame-wars over at the Outpost anymore  ;)

Barber is one case, anyway, where his Violin Concerto is better than his Cello Concerto  ;)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Dundonnell on November 04, 2008, 05:04:47 AM
Besides, we can't have flame-wars over at the Outpost anymore  ;)

Barber is one case, anyway, where his Violin Concerto is better than his Cello Concerto  ;)

I first got to know the Barber Violin Concerto in an ancient World Record Club LP-which itself was a reincarnation of a Westminster recording-played by Robert Gerle(who he?) with the 'Vienna State Opera Orchestra' conducted by Robert Zeller. Hm...I wonder?The coupling was the Delius Violin Concerto.

I thought then-I was about 17 at the time-that the Barber was the most beautiful, sad music I had ever heard and played that concerto, especially the slow movement, over and over again :) The Delius didn't get much of a look in(sorry Johan!)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on November 04, 2008, 05:09:33 AM
The Violin Concerto is truly a beauty, Colin.  I was teasing Guido a bit, though . . . fact is, I haven't really made the acquaintance of the Cello Concerto to the degree I have that for violin, so I really couldn't offer such a "judgement."
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on November 04, 2008, 10:34:42 AM
I adore both works of course and they occupy rather different niches. The violin concerto is of course a relatively youthful work, so is perhaps not as subtle as the cello concerto, but is just as beautiful. The cello concerto suffers from being excrutiatingly difficult to play - so that a) it gets very few outings compared to its standing as a masterpiece and b) often people play it as if it is a virtuoso show piece when they do, which really doesn't suit it - this is a very serious, powerful score, but is chiefly lyrical - too often it is played clipped and staccato a la Shostakovich - I hate saying that Barber was a conservative or just a romantic, as I really think he had his own sort of modernism even if it wasn't terribly radical, but the lyrical aspect of his music is surely one of chief qualities, and is one of the things that he had few peers with in America at that time, let alone the world. The only truly satisfying recording of the cello concerto I have found, as I have said many times on this forum, is Wendy Warner's on Naxos... one of my all time favourite recordings of anything (and one of my all time favourite pieces of course). Even some very famous cellists don't convince me in this piece.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Christo on November 04, 2008, 10:52:17 AM
I hate saying that Barber was a conservative or just a romantic, as I really think he had his own sort of modernism even if it wasn't terribly radical, but the lyrical aspect of his music is surely one of chief qualities, and is one of the things that he had few peers with in America at that time, let alone the world.

Two statements in one sentence I completely agree with: Barber was quite `modern' in many respects and the occasional commentary that he doesn't differ at all from Brahms, is completely mistaken. Your second statement is the very reason I've been loving his music since my teens: his unique lyrical voice that is always there, wether in extremis, as in Knoxville, Summer of 1915 or indeed the two concertos you just mentioned, or more constrained, as in many pieces from the 1960s and 1970s. It's his lyricism that makes him unique and incomparable to any other composer I know.  :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on November 04, 2008, 03:04:21 PM
Asbolutely! I think that he is sometimes dismissed unfairly because of this gift actually - as just a melodist or just a romantic. Needless to say, he deserves much better than this.

For some reason, despite loving virtually everything in his oevre it has taken me a long time to fully 'get' and love Andomache's Farwell, though that has just clicked - proof, if proof was needed, that he didn't 'loose it' after Antony and Cleopatra.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Dundonnell on November 04, 2008, 03:33:52 PM
Just finished going through my Barber collection(eg 2 versions of the piano concerto and of the cello concerto and 4 of the violin concerto) but one CD I came across which I had forgotten and doesn't seem to have been mentioned here is a coupling of "The Lovers" for baritone, mixed chorus and orchestra and 'The Prayers of Kierkegaard' for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra(Chicago SO/Andrew Schenck). Schenck was something of Barber specialist-I seem to have most of the Barber output conducted by him-before his death at a tragically young age.

Do you know that CD?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on November 04, 2008, 06:18:56 PM
I do. It the only recording of the Lovers as far as I know. I don't have access to his reording of the Prayers of Kiekegaard, but needless to say I think this work is extremely fine and Barber considered it to be one of his own best works (It is certainly one of his most personal.) - he seems to have regarded it as a summation of his religious views and attitudes - which he was usuall extremely private about, even with friends.

The Lovers I have more problems with and it may be my least favourite of the large scale works* which is not to say that there is not much to enjoy. For me, it just doesn't seem to hang together quite as well as the other large scale works, nor is it as memorable as his work usually is. That said, the movement "Tonight I can write the saddest lines" in particular is extremely moving, and the racy nature of many of the texts is certainly something to get excited about! The controversy it aroused tickled him no end - he was a wry character. By this time (1970), Barber was seriously old-fashioned sounding of course, and this is hardly one of his more modern sounding scores as it is. It's still a fascinating work.

*really not a slight!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Dundonnell on November 04, 2008, 07:42:45 PM
Sorry. when you say that you "don't have access" to the Prayers of Kierkegaard does that mean that you don't have a recording?

(I could make it available to you if that were to be the case.)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on November 04, 2008, 07:58:59 PM
I have a recording of it - Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Robert Shaw. I think I borrowed the Lovers from the library once here in Cambridge.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on November 05, 2008, 06:12:41 AM
I think Guido means Schenck's recording, ColinRobt Shaw did a great disc of the Prayers together with Bartók's Cantata profana and the Vaughan Williams Dona nobis pacem.

(And I could have read ahead . . . of course, Guido straightened things out promptly.)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: jowcol on November 07, 2008, 04:04:38 PM
Quickly, I'd have to say my faves are Symphony 1, 2nd Essay (my very favorite), the Cello Concerto(the Naxos one worked very well for me...) , and the underated Music for a Scene by Shelley.   And Knoxville 1915, of course.  And the Tocatta Festiva for Organ works very well for me.

I must admit the Piano and violin concerti did not do as much for me.  May be a problem on my side, and require a few more listens.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on November 07, 2008, 06:43:33 PM
The Naxos recordings of both the piano concerto and the violin concertos are the least convincing recordings in that series - to do with the soloists mainly... Browning in the piano concerto is just incredible, as is Takezawa in the violin concerto. I'm very glad that you agree with me on the Naxos recording of the cello concerto - a truly wonderful recording of an amazing piece.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on April 12, 2009, 03:42:30 PM
The Medea music is just plain great.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on April 13, 2009, 06:27:18 AM
You're right there Karl! It's rather Stravinskian in parts, a composer whom Barber admired though not uncritically. Like all Barber's other music, it's just so superbly made, gorgeous, the wind writing especially is just fantastic. And that xylophone figure really sticks in the mind - always what I remember first about the piece. He conducted this work along with the violin concerto, second symphony  and the Adagio for strings in Germany, and it was Medea that the audience demanded again. I like both the Suite and the shortened concert movement - Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on April 13, 2009, 06:34:43 AM
. . . I like both the Suite and the shortened concert movement - Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance.

Yes, I listened to both versions of the piece the other night.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on June 01, 2009, 04:39:35 AM
Here's an odd tangent . . . I've been speed-reading the odd title in the 33 1/3 series, and I am nearly done with the Beatles's Let It Be . . . the filming with which the project started out (at Twickenham Studios, IIRC) ran for about a week, and so there was a lot of jamming/puttering going on.  I haven'tr actually seen any of the footage (which I understand is out there for the viewing), but the book retails a couple of mentions of McCartney playing an arrangement of the Barber Adagio.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on June 01, 2009, 09:43:44 AM
How odd... I wonder what on? Of course McCartney famously can't read music, so I wonder how it was achieved...
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: snyprrr on June 01, 2009, 09:55:18 AM
I wish more threads had as witty titles! :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on June 01, 2009, 12:09:33 PM
What's so witty about it?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: snyprrr on June 01, 2009, 09:44:14 PM
Is it the punchline to a composer pun?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on June 01, 2009, 11:19:11 PM
I don't know what you are asking above...

It's not a pun because the name Barber comes from the job barber... unless there is something else called a barber chair which has nothing to do with hairdressing...
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 04:50:43 AM
Anyone listen to Barber this weekend past?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Opus106 on July 06, 2009, 05:03:30 AM
Anyone listen to Barber this weekend past?

Funny you should ask. I listened to the VC for the first time, yesterday -- and immediately went scouring for CD reviews. :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 05:05:20 AM
Splendid! I await your report!  :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Opus106 on July 06, 2009, 05:11:22 AM
Splendid! I await your report!  :)

It was a one-time listen, on an internet station. Definitely Romantic, but it was good to be discovering and listening to 'new' works, a VC especially, after a gap. I haven't actually purchased a CD yet. :) Do you have a favourite recording?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 05:13:23 AM
It was a one-time listen, on an internet station. Definitely Romantic, but it was good to be discovering and listening to 'new' works, a VC especially, after a gap. I haven't actually purchased a CD yet. :) Do you have a favourite recording?

I haven't heard many, so I don't know if I should call the one I own my favorite, though it is good.  And I've heard the piece live, too.

We'll let others chime in on range of recordings . . . .
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Opus106 on July 06, 2009, 05:15:45 AM
I haven't heard many, so I don't know if I should call the one I own my favorite, though it is good. 

Okay, just name the recordings you own or have heard. ;D
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 05:18:14 AM
Oh, what the hell:  Buswell/RSNO/Alsop on Naxos: buy it!  ;D
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: DavidRoss on July 06, 2009, 05:27:25 AM
It was a one-time listen, on an internet station. Definitely Romantic, but it was good to be discovering and listening to 'new' works, a VC especially, after a gap. I haven't actually purchased a CD yet. :) Do you have a favourite recording?
My recommendation--having heard a few--is the Gil Shaham disc coupled with a fine Korngold VC.  Previn/LSO. 
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Opus106 on July 06, 2009, 05:30:18 AM
OK. Thanks. ;D

Addendum: Thank you, David. :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 05:31:13 AM
My recommendation--having heard a few--is the Gil Shaham disc coupled with a fine Korngold VC.  Previn/LSO. 

I'll thank you, too!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Brewski on July 06, 2009, 06:03:15 AM
I have Elmar Oliveira with Slatkin/St. Louis--excellent, and coupled with a very good performance of Hanson's Second Symphony--and Hilary Hahn with Hugh Wolff/SPCO which is also wonderful, although I haven't quite warmed up to the Meyer coupling.

--Bruce
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Opus106 on July 06, 2009, 06:54:48 AM
It is likely that any recording I buy will be coupled with a work that I'm unfamiliar with. That's good!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on July 06, 2009, 06:56:46 AM
It is likely that any recording I buy will be coupled with a work that I'm unfamiliar with. That's good!

That's the spirit!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: not edward on July 06, 2009, 09:28:03 AM
I've got Stern on Sony coupled with the Browning recording of the piano concerto. Haven't really heard any others, so I can't comment, but these make a fine case for the works as far as I can see.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: listener on March 10, 2010, 07:06:19 PM
American composer Samuel Barber would have been 100 years old Tuesday.

Full story from National Public Radio at:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124495237
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Christo on March 11, 2010, 01:29:29 AM
Thanks!

When I first heard a piece by Barber, he was still alive. Back in 1978 I heard his Second Essay for Orchestra, in a very fitting atmosphere. It was a hot Summer afternoon leading directly into a typical hot weather thunderstorm. It made a hugh impression, one that has never left me and is still there when I hear the piece. My favourite recording is still the same too: David Measham conducting the LSO.

                                  (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Oct03/Barber_RRC1139.jpg)

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on March 11, 2010, 06:40:06 AM
Thanks!

When I first heard a piece by Barber, he was still alive. Back in 1978 I heard his Second Essay for Orchestra, in a very fitting atmosphere. It was a hot Summer afternoon leading directly into a typical hot weather thunderstorm. It made a hugh impression, one that has never left me and is still there when I hear the piece. My favourite recording is still the same too: David Measham conducting the LSO.

                                  (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Oct03/Barber_RRC1139.jpg)

This is my favourite recording too of my favourite Barber work alongside Symphony 1 and Knoxville.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: DavidRoss on March 11, 2010, 09:56:21 AM
Do y'all know this smoking video of the VC 3rd mvmt?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l54vemHn_fM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l54vemHn_fM)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on March 12, 2010, 07:23:08 AM
Great video!

Much though I adore every note that Barber ever wrote (that's not really an exageration!) there's one piece that I can't stand - the Agnus Dei choral arrangement of the Adagio for Strings - its so much worse than the original in every regard! I imagine it makes the Barber estate quite a lot of money though. A very (very) rare lapse in judgment from Sam here.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on March 12, 2010, 08:23:36 AM
I'm not at all happy with that adaptation, either, FWIW, Guido.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: eyeresist on March 14, 2010, 11:15:08 PM
there's one piece that I can't stand - the Agnus Dei choral arrangement of the Adagio for Strings - its so much worse than the original in every regard!

What exactly is wrong with it? I have the Shaw recording. It's not as brilliant as the orchestral version, but it's nice to hear the piece in a different setting.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: karlhenning on March 15, 2010, 03:11:51 AM
What exactly is wrong with it? I have the Shaw recording. It's not as brilliant as the orchestral version, but it's nice to hear the piece in a different setting.

For one thing, it doesn't suit the text.  The music is composed in a way which drives to a magnificent climax, a 'shape' which is entirely at odds with the thrice-repeated quasi-litany text.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on March 15, 2010, 03:49:39 AM
That's the most important objection from a text setting point of view of course, but also, the words are so spread out and arbitrarily arranged with the music that it may as well be wordless choir.

Second is the fearsome difficulty of it - usually Barber's choral writing is challenging but still completely singable and idiomatic.  What suits a string orchestra absolutely magnificently becomes strained and unbelievably taxing on an 8 part choir - tuning is a bear, maintaining the intensity and crescendo from pp to ff in one fluid arc is incredibly hard for voices. I've never heard it sung satisfactorily live - and even on recordings its not always done perfectly.

Finally (and this is just personally) there's something just slightly ersatz about it - likes its a mockery of true religiosity. It's hard to know why I get this feeling - it may be just as simple as the text being pasted onto a piece that was composed with no religious intent trying to expressed. Barber's own religious feelings are beautifully contained within his The Prayers of Kierkegaard, which is a masterful and truly affecting work, one of his greatest achievements.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on May 08, 2011, 08:34:02 PM
I also admire his violin concerto and wonder if anyone can recommend their favorite recordings. I have the Isaac Stern version with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Hilary Hahn is my favorite in this concerto, but I also like Joshua Bell's reading with Zinman on Decca. I'm less impressed with Perlman, Shaham, and Stern. This has been a favorite concerto of mine for many years now. The last movement never fails to baffle me though. It seems so oddly out-of-place, but I think it's fine as virtuoso showcase, which is all it is really as it doesn't contain any of the lyricism of the previous movements.

I think Barber's music treaded a very fine line between Romanticism and Modernism. As I have read in various articles, he didn't really belong to any school of thought. He simply created the music he wanted to create. It's honestly quite hard to pinpoint influences in Barber's music as it is so enigmatic and all over the place, but he always is emotionally direct in his music and beauty is never far from the surface, which is why he has remained a favorite of mine for quite some time.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Szykneij on May 09, 2011, 04:34:10 PM
Hilary Hahn is my favorite in this concerto, but I also like Joshua Bell's reading with Zinman on Decca. I'm less impressed with Perlman, Shaham, and Stern. This has been a favorite concerto of mine for many years now. The last movement never fails to baffle me though. It seems so oddly out-of-place, but I think it's fine as virtuoso showcase, which is all it is really as it doesn't contain any of the lyricism of the previous movements.

Thanks, MI! I waited nearly 4 years for that!   :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on May 09, 2011, 04:36:17 PM
Thanks, MI! I waited nearly 4 years for that!   :)

Lol...well better late than never, right? ;)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair, the violin concerto controversy
Post by: Scion7 on April 30, 2012, 04:46:59 PM
About the violin concerto-- I forget the violinist who originally commissioned the work, but the violinist was extremely disappointed with the first two movements-- not very "show off" material, and he griped to Barber about it.  So Barber ended up writing that dizzying finale and then the violinist complained that it was unplayable.  I forget if Barber actually got the commission money, but he found another violinist to premiere the work.  LOL

The truth about the matter was somewhat late in coming out but can be found at: http://www.isobriselli.com/index.php (http://www.isobriselli.com/index.php)



Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Scion7 on April 30, 2012, 04:55:21 PM
P.S.:

(http://store.acousticsounds.com/images/large/UCBS_61621__71932__11292010100337-3126.jpg)

Always!    :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Elnimio on May 02, 2012, 06:54:11 AM
Possibly the most talented American composer, ever. Not necessarily my favorite, but I think the most talented.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Scion7 on May 03, 2012, 11:33:26 AM
I think he's underestimated due to the fact that he could write a great melody.

A quick listen to the finale to the violin concerto shows a composer who had a good sound understanding of counterpoint, for one thing.

I'd much rather listen to Barber in general than Ives or Copland - both of which wrote a good many pieces that I admire.  And Griffes has nowhere near the cachet of Barber.
His best chamber music is very admirable.

Too bad so much of his later years were somewhat wasted in depression and drink.
Title: The Barber Chair
Post by: Leo K. on February 05, 2013, 08:33:15 PM
I feel a Barber phase wanting to break through, think I'll listen to the violin concerto tonight. I'll never forget hearing it live with Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg playing it, it was like an awakening in my soul.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 05, 2013, 08:41:12 PM
I feel a Barber phase wanting to break through, think I'll listen to the violin concerto tonight. I'll never forget hearing it live with Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg playing it, it was like an awakening in my soul.

A great composer to spend some time with no doubt. One of my favorites for sure. The Violin Concerto is incredible. Barber had such a great affinity for the melodic line in his music. Such remarkable lyricism.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on May 04, 2013, 07:02:57 PM
Spun this recording tonight:

(http://www.silverdisc.com/images/80/8011570338143.jpg)

An excellent recording of outstanding performances. Don't be put of by the somewhat abstract cover art or the fact that this was released on the Stradivarius label (a label quite known for their Italian avant-garde releases), this is a must-have for Barber fans. The Piano Concerto receives a thunderous performance. The slow movement, a personal favorite of mine, is handled with the utmost care and sensitivity. The Essays are marvelously performed. It makes me wish these same forces would have released more Barber recordings.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 04, 2014, 03:16:30 PM
What a terrific CD this one is. It features my favourite recording of the magnificent Second Essay for Orchestra and a very moving version of 'Knoxville'. Beautiful performances and great recording. As the notes say, the Second Essay is, in effect, a Symphony.

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 04, 2014, 05:46:49 PM
What a terrific CD this one is. It features my favourite recording of the magnificent Second Essay for Orchestra and a very moving version of 'Knoxville'. Beautiful performances and great recording. As the notes say, the Second Essay is, in effect, a Symphony.



Indeed, Jeffrey. That's a great disc, but I love all of Alsop's Barber recordings. Top-shelf performances for sure.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 05, 2014, 09:40:52 AM
Indeed, Jeffrey. That's a great disc, but I love all of Alsop's Barber recordings. Top-shelf performances for sure.

Thanks John - me too - but I think that this one is super special.  :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 05, 2014, 06:12:59 PM
Thanks John - me too - but I think that this one is super special.  :)

That's probably my favorite disc of the series, too, but I do like the one with Symphonies 1 & 2 a lot.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 06, 2014, 02:20:27 AM
That's probably my favorite disc of the series, too, but I do like the one with Symphonies 1 & 2 a lot.

Me too!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 13, 2014, 07:44:16 PM
Let's revive this thread for good ol' Sammy. I still have yet to hear his Summer Music for Wind Quintet, but I'm going to change this soon. Barber's oeuvre isn't large by any stretch, but I'm still finding little gems hidden below the more well-known and often performed masterworks. One of them is Canzonetta for Oboe and Strings, which was going to be apart of a concerto for oboe he was composing, but he died before finishing it. One of the most devastating aspects of his composing career came from the failure of his last opera Antony and Cleopatra. The overall rejection he felt from it I think contributed to his slow decline. He composed very little after it.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 13, 2014, 07:55:36 PM
I find Schipper's Barber recording on Columbia (Sony) to still be incredibly emotional and quite electrifying. I'd also say it's pretty definitive since Barber himself was at the studio tapings. If I remember correctly, Barber did not get along at all with Schippers. I can't remember why this was exactly. My thinking was Barber was a difficult personality anyway. Have any of you Barberites read anything about Barber's temper or general aloofness?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Daverz on March 13, 2014, 09:43:43 PM
I find Schipper's Barber recording on Columbia (Sony) to still be incredibly emotional and quite electrifying.

Agreed.  A great record.

Quote
I'd also say it's pretty definitive since Barber himself was at the studio tapings. If I remember correctly, Barber did not get along at all with Schippers. I can't remember why this was exactly. My thinking was Barber was a difficult personality anyway. Have any of you Barberites read anything about Barber's temper or general aloofness?

Might have had something to do with Schippers's relationship with Gian Carlo Menotti.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 14, 2014, 07:26:31 AM
Might have had something to do with Schippers's relationship with Gian Carlo Menotti.

Bingo! We have a winner! That's right. Schippers had a relationship with Menotti.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 14, 2014, 11:13:16 AM
Ask and it shall be given!

(http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g66/azle251/Color%20Images/BARBERSCHAIR.jpg)

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 14, 2014, 11:21:24 AM
I need to revisit the Alsop/Barber recordings on Naxos.  I remember them with great affection . . . there is no proper reason why I've not listened to them in so long a time . . . time I got back to them.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 14, 2014, 04:53:43 PM
I need to revisit the Alsop/Barber recordings on Naxos.  I remember them with great affection . . . there is no proper reason why I've not listened to them in so long a time . . . time I got back to them.

You'll certainly enjoy them, Karl. It seems that Barber's music has fallen out of favor somewhat in terms of recordings being released. I know works like Adagio for Strings and even Knoxville: Summer of 1915 will get some frequency in the concert halls, but I wonder when the last time a work like the Medea Suite or even the lesser known concerti like Capricorn Concerto, Piano Concerto, and the Cello Concerto have gotten any kind of performance?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 14, 2014, 04:59:16 PM
You'll certainly enjoy them, Karl. It seems that Barber's music has fallen out of favor somewhat in terms of recordings being released. I know works like Adagio for Strings and even Knoxville: Summer of 1915 will get some frequency in the concert halls, but I wonder when the last time a work like the Medea Suite or even the lesser known concerti like Capricorn Concerto, Piano Concerto, and the Cello Concerto have gotten any kind of performance?
I saw Knoxville listed on a program for a local regional orchestra here a couple years ago.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 14, 2014, 05:03:34 PM
I saw Knoxville listed on a program for a local regional orchestra here a couple years ago.

I'd love to see one of Barber's works live. Knoxville would certainly be one to see. It's just gorgeous from start to finish.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 14, 2014, 05:09:49 PM
I'd love to see one of Barber's works live. Knoxville would certainly be one to see. It's just gorgeous from start to finish.
Indeed. But my favourite is and always will be ( in MI terms I mean, ask me again Tuesday) the first symphony. I don't know of a better symphony by any American-born composer.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: NJ Joe on March 14, 2014, 05:21:50 PM
I only own one Barber disc, but I love it from start to finish:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51H9pT4YVYL._SY300_.jpg)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 14, 2014, 06:10:50 PM
Indeed. But my favourite is and always will be ( in MI terms I mean, ask me again Tuesday) the first symphony. I don't know of a better symphony by any American-born composer.

Well sure, I mean I have a lot of favorite Barber works and Symphony No. 1 is among them certainly. That slow movement is so haunting. I like Symphony No. 2 and the Essays for Orchestra as well. All first-rate works.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 14, 2014, 06:11:16 PM
I only own one Barber disc, but I love it from start to finish:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51H9pT4YVYL._SY300_.jpg)

Agreed. A fine disc, NJ Joe.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 14, 2014, 07:17:54 PM
Any favorite performances of the Violin Concerto?

My vote will always go to Hilary Hahn with Hugh Wolff conducting the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. One of the most incredible performances of Hahn's career so far along with her Schoenberg.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 15, 2014, 08:54:21 PM
I only own one Barber disc, but I love it from start to finish:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51H9pT4YVYL._SY300_.jpg)

Have you considered getting the Alsop series, NJ Joe? I think you'll be satisfied with the series.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 16, 2014, 05:57:13 AM
Have you considered getting the Alsop series, NJ Joe? I think you'll be satisfied with the series.
+1 on the 3 discs I have heard
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2014, 06:16:15 AM
+1 on the 3 discs I have heard

Yes and what's nice now is you can buy the whole series boxed up, which at the time I bought the series Naxos hadn't gotten around to doing this yet.

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2014, 04:31:10 PM
This is the only site I could find that listed Barber's complete oeuvre:

http://www.samuelbarber.fr/pdf/Catalogue_chronologique_oeuvres.pdf
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2014, 05:17:10 PM
A little statement I'll make about Barber:

For me, Barber is easily the greatest American composer. Besides the obvious accessibility of his music, there is something much deeper happening under the surface. There's much pain and heartbreak. There's also a sense of yearning, but not without that glimpse of hope. The optimism, and pessimism, are also what makes Barber's music 'human.' Earth-bound in a sense but with vast walls of smoke. Uncertainty for what tomorrow brings seems to underline a lot of his music. Enigmatic, but extremely telling in it's direct emotional expression.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2014, 10:56:20 PM
I think Alsop's set does contain some duds performance-wise:

1. Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance - would have liked to see more rhythmic vigor here than Alsop gets from the RSNO

2. All three concerti are better performed elsewhere, but I'm a bit biased here as I had favorites prior to Alsop's recordings: Ma/Zinman in the CC, Hahn/Wolff in the VC, and Browning/Slatkin in the PC, I don't think the soloists in Alsop's set rise above the occasion, but the CC seems to get the best performance of the trio

3. Adagio for Strings wasn't deeply felt, but Thomas Schippers is still the conductor to beat here for me

4. Toccata festiva - a cool work but a rhythmically slack performance and you can barely hear the organ

But Barber wrote some duds himself and the performances couldn't change this fact for me:

1. Die natali - one of the most boring pieces of music I'd ever heard -- essentially this whole work is just a theme and variation type of form on Christmas carols bah humbug!

2. Fadograph of a Yestern Scene - I might have to listen to this again pretty soon but I found nothing in it

3. Mutations from Bach - what a travesty and not because of Bach, I would say Bach is the best thing about this work --- the 'mutations' however were dreadful
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Madiel on March 17, 2014, 12:45:59 AM
Hmm. Might as well pitch in...

I've got a grand total of 4 CDs worth of Barber - a double disc of the songs (Hampson, Studer and Browning, with Hampson shining in particular), and another double disc which combines orchestral recordings by Slatkin with some chamber and piano music.

The funny thing is, though, those discs are enough to give me nearly half of Barber's opuses. Not exactly a prolific composer, but certainly a very good one.

And I definitely want to hear more. I keep pondering some of the discs in that Naxos orchestral series. I definitely want more of his vocal works, because there are some real gems in the solo songs. I would have high hopes for the works with orchestra - Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Prayers of Kierkegaard, Andromache's Farewell and The Lovers.

In fact, that sounds like a perfect CD program right there, which makes me wonder why it hasn't been done. Although a bit of research suggests it might not be quite possible to fit all 4 of those on a single disc.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: DavidW on March 17, 2014, 04:51:24 AM
I also don't like Alsop's approach to the Adagio.  It is the most faithful version I've heard, but I would rather have something super-indulgant! ;D
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: snyprrr on March 17, 2014, 06:39:31 AM
Capricorn Concerto

Barber's most neglected Neo-Classic Masterpiece is a Stravinskian delight! I simply cannot get passed the Mercury recording- it just reminds me of early '70s TV, oh what times!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2014, 04:58:53 PM
Capricorn Concerto

Barber's most neglected Neo-Classic Masterpiece is a Stravinskian delight! I simply cannot get passed the Mercury recording- it just reminds me of early '70s TV, oh what times!

A nice work indeed. Is this Mercury recording with Howard Hanson conducting? I know Hanson has a performance of the Medea Suite on Mercury (coupled with some Gould works).
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2014, 05:10:58 PM
Symphony No. 2 -

While serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, Samuel Barber was commissioned to write a symphony about the heroic American flyers. The result is the Symphony No. 2, a work Barber was to later reject. Thinking it was inferior, he instructed his publisher to destroy the score and parts twenty years after its premiere. (The second movement did survive in the form of Night Flight, Op. 19a.) Luckily, parts were found in England a few years after Barber's death and the work was rescued from obscurity.

Symphony No. 2, unlike the one-movement Symphony No. 1, is in three separate movements. The first performance was with the legendary conductor Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony in 1944. The work depicts the danger and drama experienced by World War II flyers. While Barber can be considered the quintessential Neo-Romantic, he experimented with the more modern compositional technique of bi-tonality (two different keys played at the same time). The "introduction" of the first movement, Allegro ma non troppo, has a precarious, teetering effect in the high woodwinds. This is followed by a grand, almost plodding dotted rhythm in the lower register that suggests the huge scale of the machines these young flyers were expected to command. There are hints of Sergey Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky as dissonance plays a large role leading into the "exposition" marked by a faster tempo. This rhythmically complex section, which builds momentum and tension, is eventually contrasted by a calming, more placid secondary theme in major played by the oboe (typical "Barberesque" lyricism). A development section ensues containing bits of all previously used material. In fact, most of the thematic material in this movement derives from the very opening, giving it a cohesive, organic quality. A quasi-recapitulation brings the movement full circle ending in the stratosphere where it began, underlined by an ominously low rumble (plane engines in the distance?).

The second movement, Andante, un poco mosso, starts with a murky, dirge-like feeling that leads into a mournful English horn solo. The middle section gets about as dissonant as Barber gets, building to a tension-filled climax, working its way back to the lyrical English horn theme played this time by the strings. The movement ends with an E flat clarinet in the high register imitating the sound of a radio signal. (Apparently, the original score called for an authentic electronic homing device, which Barber later withdrew.) The third and final movement, Presto, senza battuta, is a whirlwind of energy. The texture is fairly contrapuntal (fugue-like entrances), especially some three and a half minutes into the movement. This developmental episode leads to the quiet before the final storm, which ends triumphantly in a major key. The symphony, fraught with defiance, uncertainty, and edginess, may not have been the patriotic piece of Americana the powers that be had in mind. But, like Barber's Symphony No. 1, it deserves to be heard more often for its thoughtful architecture and emotional impact.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

----------------------------------------------------------------------

What do my fellow Barberites think about Symphony No. 2? I think it's one of Barber's most visionary works. Everything about this symphony hits me like a ton of bricks. Ken B. may feel strongly about Symphony No. 1 being the best American symphony ever composed, but I'm starting to feel this way about the 2nd. The first and third movements are tour-de-forces in melodic invention and thematic transformation. The second movement has to be counted as one of Barber's most heartfelt utterances. So moving.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 17, 2014, 05:54:38 PM
Symphony No. 2 -

While serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, Samuel Barber was commissioned to write a symphony about the heroic American flyers. The result is the Symphony No. 2, a work Barber was to later reject. Thinking it was inferior, he instructed his publisher to destroy the score and parts twenty years after its premiere. (The second movement did survive in the form of Night Flight, Op. 19a.) Luckily, parts were found in England a few years after Barber's death and the work was rescued from obscurity.

Symphony No. 2, unlike the one-movement Symphony No. 1, is in three separate movements. The first performance was with the legendary conductor Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony in 1944. The work depicts the danger and drama experienced by World War II flyers. While Barber can be considered the quintessential Neo-Romantic, he experimented with the more modern compositional technique of bi-tonality (two different keys played at the same time). The "introduction" of the first movement, Allegro ma non troppo, has a precarious, teetering effect in the high woodwinds. This is followed by a grand, almost plodding dotted rhythm in the lower register that suggests the huge scale of the machines these young flyers were expected to command. There are hints of Sergey Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky as dissonance plays a large role leading into the "exposition" marked by a faster tempo. This rhythmically complex section, which builds momentum and tension, is eventually contrasted by a calming, more placid secondary theme in major played by the oboe (typical "Barberesque" lyricism). A development section ensues containing bits of all previously used material. In fact, most of the thematic material in this movement derives from the very opening, giving it a cohesive, organic quality. A quasi-recapitulation brings the movement full circle ending in the stratosphere where it began, underlined by an ominously low rumble (plane engines in the distance?).

The second movement, Andante, un poco mosso, starts with a murky, dirge-like feeling that leads into a mournful English horn solo. The middle section gets about as dissonant as Barber gets, building to a tension-filled climax, working its way back to the lyrical English horn theme played this time by the strings. The movement ends with an E flat clarinet in the high register imitating the sound of a radio signal. (Apparently, the original score called for an authentic electronic homing device, which Barber later withdrew.) The third and final movement, Presto, senza battuta, is a whirlwind of energy. The texture is fairly contrapuntal (fugue-like entrances), especially some three and a half minutes into the movement. This developmental episode leads to the quiet before the final storm, which ends triumphantly in a major key. The symphony, fraught with defiance, uncertainty, and edginess, may not have been the patriotic piece of Americana the powers that be had in mind. But, like Barber's Symphony No. 1, it deserves to be heard more often for its thoughtful architecture and emotional impact.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

----------------------------------------------------------------------

What do my fellow Barberites think about Symphony No. 2? I think it's one of Barber's most visionary works. Everything about this symphony hits me like a ton of bricks. Ken B. may feel strongly about Symphony No. 1 being the best American symphony ever composed, but I'm starting to feel this way about the 2nd. The first and third movements are tour-de-forces in melodic invention and thematic transformation. The second movement has to be counted as one of Barber's most heartfelt utterances. So moving.

I do like Night Flight more than the outer movements. Listening now, first time in a couple years, so I'll report back.  Played it much more in the 80s.

I do value Barber's opinion though. Especially when he agrees with me.  :laugh: >:D
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2014, 06:03:02 PM
I do like Night Flight more than the outer movements. Listening now, first time in a couple years, so I'll report back.  Played it much more in the 80s.

I do value Barber's opinion though. Especially when he agrees with me.  :laugh: >:D

I love each movement. The first and second especially, but the finale does make quite an impact. You must remember that Barber was sometimes a merciless self-critic hence why his oeuvre is so small. But give it a listen and see if you've changed your mind about it.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: snyprrr on March 18, 2014, 06:05:09 AM
A nice work indeed. Is this Mercury recording with Howard Hanson conducting? I know Hanson has a performance of the Medea Suite on Mercury (coupled with some Gould works).

Yea, but not on the same disc.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 18, 2014, 06:57:55 AM
Oh, I do need to revisit the symphonies.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: TheGSMoeller on March 18, 2014, 07:23:59 AM
Oh, I do need to revisit the symphonies.

Go for this disc, Karl. The best collection, and performances, of Barber orchestral pieces.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kbgzwYk%2BL._SS300_.jpg)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 18, 2014, 07:38:09 AM
Go for this disc, Karl. The best collection, and performances, of Barber orchestral pieces.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kbgzwYk%2BL._SS300_.jpg)

I wouldn't say it's 'the best' because it's really not, especially if I were to look at Thomas Schippers' spectacular recording. Also, I think Alsop's Symphony No. 1 and Essays are more dynamic than Zinman's. Don't get me wrong the Zinman is a great disc, but if Karl owns Alsop already, I would highly suggest listening to that Symphonies disc. Zinman does best Alsop on The School for Scandal Overture, though, for reasons I've already mentioned on the 'Listening' thread.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 18, 2014, 07:39:15 AM
Oh, I do need to revisit the symphonies.

Go for Alsop, Karl. You won't be sorry.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 18, 2014, 08:01:33 AM
I've got the Alsop back home.  Just need to fetch the discs forth.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: TheGSMoeller on March 18, 2014, 08:10:10 AM
I wouldn't say it's 'the best'...

You don't have to say it, I did.  ;D
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 18, 2014, 05:01:09 PM
You don't have to say it, I did.  ;D

 :P
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 21, 2014, 07:41:35 AM
Re: Zinman/Baltimore SO on Argo

The Barber Zinman recording receives 2.5 stars from me. I revisited Zinman's Adagio last night and absolutely thought it was one of the most dreadful performances of the work I've heard. It's even worse than Alsop's performance. Another thing about Zinman's performances is they're just completely smoothed over --- there are no edges, but there should've been because Barber's music is not free of these jagged corners. I found very little to criticize in his Essays 1 & 2 performances, but, again, Alsop performed these with greater intensity IMHO. But, I'm still under the impression that Schippers' Barber recording is some of the finest around and I have yet to be convinced that there's a better Adagio out there.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: TheGSMoeller on March 21, 2014, 08:14:28 AM
Listening to Monkey Greg's favorite Barber disc now:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51H9pT4YVYL.jpg)

Listening to Adagio for Strings. Gorgeous as always.

Didn't seen to bother you last night.  ;)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 21, 2014, 08:46:59 AM
Re: Zinman/Baltimore SO on Argo

The Barber Zinman recording receives 2.5 stars from me. I revisited Zinman's Adagio last night and absolutely thought it was one of the most dreadful performances of the work I've heard. It's even worse than Alsop's performance. Another thing about Zinman's performances is they're just completely smoothed over --- there are no edges, but there should've been because Barber's music is not free of these jagged corners. I found very little to criticize in his Essays 1 & 2 performances, but, again, Alsop performed these with greater intensity IMHO. But, I'm still under the impression that Schippers' Barber recording is some of the finest around and I have yet to be convinced that there's a better Adagio out there.
I must agree with MI on the adagio here. 'Jagged' isn't the right word, but you need to hear the texture, swellings and diminutions. You have to hear the strings breathe. You want the grain of the wood, not the varnish.  It's a quartet transcribed after all.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: TheGSMoeller on March 21, 2014, 09:00:25 AM
So Adagio aside, what's the thought on the rest? Because I think Zinman/Baltimore add the right amount of intensity for the orchestral works. I'm not a huge listener of Barber, but these performances are what turned me on to his music, and is really the only disc I spin.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 21, 2014, 11:07:10 AM
So Adagio aside, what's the thought on the rest? Because I think Zinman/Baltimore add the right amount of intensity for the orchestral works. I'm not a huge listener of Barber, but these performances are what turned me on to his music, and is really the only disc I spin.
I haven't heard the disc, only the adagio on youtube. So I abstain.
Update: On general principles I should probably vote against whatever John votes for, but he was right about the adagio ...  :o 8) ;)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 21, 2014, 05:06:21 PM
Didn't seen to bother you last night.  ;)

No, but I didn't feel the music. As I wrote later, Zinman plays the notes, and plays them gorgeously, but that is all. The same goes of the rest of the performances on that Zinman recording. I can hear why you must enjoy it, but I can't get onboard with the lackluster interpretations. The Baltimore SO, of course, can't be faulted. They performed superbly.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 21, 2014, 05:08:55 PM
I must agree with MI on the adagio here. 'Jagged' isn't the right word, but you need to hear the texture, swellings and diminutions. You have to hear the strings breathe. You want the grain of the wood, not the varnish.  It's a quartet transcribed after all.

No, jagged is the perfect word and I will continue to use because Adagio isn't all 'pretty music.' There are some rough corners throughout the work and Schippers recognizes this but it also helps to have the composer in the mixing room. ;)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on March 22, 2014, 02:14:17 AM
I bought the Argo CD when it first came out for the Symphony No 1 and Essay No 2 and enjoyed both performances. Prob my favourite version of the Symphony is conducted by William Strickland with the Japanese Symphony Orchestra and the Essay No 2 has a number of great recordings by Schippers, Alsop and David Measham (on a wonderful Unicorn/Regis CD).
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 22, 2014, 07:11:46 AM
I bought the Argo CD when it first came out for the Symphony No 1 and Essay No 2 and enjoyed both performances. Prob my favourite version of the Symphony is conducted by William Strickland with the Japanese Symphony Orchestra and the Essay No 2 has a number of great recordings by Schippers, Alsop and David Measham (on a wonderful Unicorn/Regis CD).
I recall the Measham from long ago. It was outstanding.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on March 22, 2014, 10:23:59 AM
I recall the Measham from long ago. It was outstanding.
Yes, I totally agree. Here it is (available for under £3.00 on UK Amazon and $1.99 on the American site) - one of the great Barber CDs of all time. Sadly David Measham died quite young. He conducted a fine version of Miaskovsky's Symphony No. 21 on Unicorn and a Eugene Goossens's excellent First Symphony (which unlike the Miaskovsky was never released on CD).

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: TheGSMoeller on March 22, 2014, 10:44:23 AM
Yes, I totally agree. Here it is (available for under £3.00 on UK Amazon and $1.99 on the American site) - one of the great Barber CDs of all time. Sadly David Measham died quite young. He conducted a fine version of Miaskovsky's Symphony No. 21 on Unicorn and a Eugene Goossens's excellent First Symphony (which unlike the Miaskovsky was never released on CD).



Thanks for posting, looks and sounds too good to pass up. Plus Symphony No.1 is quite a piece and Scene from Shelley is awesome, could use another performance for variety. Just purchased.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on March 22, 2014, 11:30:30 AM
Thanks for posting, looks and sounds too good to pass up. Plus Symphony No.1 is quite a piece and Scene from Shelley is awesome, could use another performance for variety. Just purchased.

You won't regret it especially as a fine version of Knoxville was added to the CD from the original LP release. Let us know what you think.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ken B on March 22, 2014, 11:39:20 AM
Yes, I totally agree. Here it is (available for under £3.00 on UK Amazon and $1.99 on the American site) - one of the great Barber CDs of all time. Sadly David Measham died quite young. He conducted a fine version of Miaskovsky's Symphony No. 21 on Unicorn and a Eugene Goossens's excellent First Symphony (which unlike the Miaskovsky was never released on CD).


SNARFED

I could not afford to upgrade to that when my friend had it and I had some lesser B1, so now I could not resist.
My friends was like MI in his tastes, but also big on Boulez. He's a convicted felon now ...  :'(
Avoid the Darmstadt gang John, I'm beggin' ya  ;)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 24, 2014, 03:59:13 PM
Cross-posted from the 'Listening' thread:

Quote
Now:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41t-ZviGUZL.jpg)

Listening to this performance of Barber's Cello Concerto. This surpasses Ma and Poltera for me now. I haven't heard Kirshbaum's performance yet (received it in the mail today as well), so I'll have to some comparisons there.

Really an incredible performance. Every movement is handled with drive and an emotional intensity. The second movement Andante Sostenuto is the best on record I've heard. Everything is paced to great effect. Like a lament or miniature requiem of sorts. Gastinel's cello playing is second to none here. She handles all of the more virtuosic passages like they were as natural as breathing for her. Effortless. I keep reading this is a difficult concerto to perform technically, but, to my ears, I hear no such struggle. Just one beautiful, heartbreaking note played after another. The accompaniment from Justin Brown (a conductor whose name is new to me) also should be noted here. His is the best accompaniment I've heard on any recording so far. The City of Birmingham SO are in top form as well.

For those that love Barber's Cello Concerto, this would be the performance to own. Highly recommended.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 26, 2014, 07:00:05 PM
Is anyone else a fan of Gastinel's performance of the Barber CC?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 26, 2014, 07:03:14 PM
Perhaps a better question would be has anyone heard it? :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Rons_talking on March 09, 2015, 04:45:12 AM

I agree about the second movement. While I'm not crazy about the first mov., the 2nd movement is Barber at his best. While his scores are often crafted to perfection, the slow movement is stunning in it's raw emotional power and harmonic tension and unusual use of the orchestra. My dad used to give me his used CDs if he didn't like them. When I listened to the New Zealand recording I was floored by the 2nd symphony (that he allegedly wanted to destroy) but no one else seemed to know or care about the 2nd. I wanted to send Dad the CD and tell him to pay more attention to the 2nd! His Essays, the piano concerto and Medea are all among my favorites. The Piano Sonata is also a rush!
[/quote]



Symphony No. 2 -



----------------------------------------------------------------------


Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 09, 2015, 08:17:39 AM
I agree about the second movement. While I'm not crazy about the first mov., the 2nd movement is Barber at his best. While his scores are often crafted to perfection, the slow movement is stunning in it's raw emotional power and harmonic tension and unusual use of the orchestra. My dad used to give me his used CDs if he didn't like them. When I listened to the New Zealand recording I was floored by the 2nd symphony (that he allegedly wanted to destroy) but no one else seemed to know or care about the 2nd. I wanted to send Dad the CD and tell him to pay more attention to the 2nd! His Essays, the piano concerto and Medea are all among my favorites. The Piano Sonata is also a rush!

I love his Symphony No. 2 and don't find anything weak about any of the movements. Don't forget about the Cello Concerto and check out the Gastinel/Brown performance on Naive (my favorite performance of the work). The slow movement of the Cello Concerto is some of the most gorgeous music I've ever heard.

Oh, and let's not forget this:

Happy Birthday, Barber!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Rons_talking on March 11, 2015, 05:48:57 PM
I love his Symphony No. 2 and don't find anything weak about any of the movements. Don't forget about the Cello Concerto and check out the Gastinel/Brown performance on Naive (my favorite performance of the work). The slow movement of the Cello Concerto is some of the most gorgeous music I've ever heard.

Oh, and let's not forget this:

Happy Birthday, Barber!

Sorry to cut your quote up above. Yes, Barber's 2nd is a great piece all the way through. When I was younger I didn't care for some of Barber's music as I do now. I used to be put off by the romantic nature of some of his louder music thinkin it "bombastic." But I missed out on the harmonic and melodic brilliance that I'm now better equipped to hear. Still, I love a lot of his music while other works don't do anything for me. But I have no doubt that his talent was beyond that of nearly any of his contemporaries. I don't believe he ever really found his true musical voice, at least not to his own satisfaction. But he has quite a few masterworks.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2015, 06:32:55 PM
Sorry to cut your quote up above. Yes, Barber's 2nd is a great piece all the way through. When I was younger I didn't care for some of Barber's music as I do now. I used to be put off by the romantic nature of some of his louder music thinkin it "bombastic." But I missed out on the harmonic and melodic brilliance that I'm now better equipped to hear. Still, I love a lot of his music while other works don't do anything for me. But I have no doubt that his talent was beyond that of nearly any of his contemporaries. I don't believe he ever really found his true musical voice, at least not to his own satisfaction. But he has quite a few masterworks.

Yes, the lyricism of Barber's music is what gives the music it's unique sound-world. I wouldn't say that he didn't find his own musical voice as his mature works could have come from no one but him. One listen to say the Essay for Orchestra No. 1, for example, it never would cross my mind that this music was coming from another composer. Perhaps it's because I've become attuned to his style enough to recognize him? Anyway, he was a master. Other American composers in a similar league (for me): Ives, Copland, Diamond, and Schuman.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Madiel on March 16, 2015, 04:00:00 AM
I listened to all three of the Essays for Orchestra earlier today.

Fantastic pieces. And I'd rather forgotten how dark they are.  Like all Barber there's a certain amount of lyricism but this is still quite rugged music.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2015, 07:10:16 AM
I listened to all three of the Essays for Orchestra earlier today.

Fantastic pieces. And I'd rather forgotten how dark they are.  Like all Barber there's a certain amount of lyricism but this is still quite rugged music.

Indeed. All great works IMHO.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kishnevi on March 16, 2015, 08:20:07 AM
Last night ordered this as part of a larger order
(http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/non-muze2/large/1740562.jpg)
Don't think there are that many recordings of the PC, so this may be of interest. (I think I only have the one from Naxos.)
The Barber nocturne is Op.33, Homage to John Field.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2015, 08:59:15 AM
I listened to all three of the Essays for Orchestra earlier today.

Fantastic pieces. And I'd rather forgotten how dark they are.  Like all Barber there's a certain amount of lyricism but this is still quite rugged music.

The redemptive last section of No 2 is very moving.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Madiel on March 16, 2015, 01:12:45 PM
Last night ordered this as part of a larger order
(http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/non-muze2/large/1740562.jpg)
Don't think there are that many recordings of the PC, so this may be of interest. (I think I only have the one from Naxos.)
The Barber nocturne is Op.33, Homage to John Field.

I saw this yesterday, it looked quite interesting so I'd be keen to hear your opinion of it.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Rons_talking on March 18, 2015, 02:46:14 AM
Last night ordered this as part of a larger order
(http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/non-muze2/large/1740562.jpg)
Don't think there are that many recordings of the PC, so this may be of interest. (I think I only have the one from Naxos.)
The Barber nocturne is Op.33, Homage to John Field.

A great piece! I don't understand why there aren't more recordings of this work. I'd like to hear this version. I hear a wide variance in the records that I've heard. I love the way the lyrical 2nd movement is followed by the exciting 5/8 finale. A pianist's dream.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on March 18, 2015, 06:32:22 AM
A great piece! I don't understand why there aren't more recordings of this work. I'd like to hear this version. I hear a wide variance in the records that I've heard. I love the way the lyrical 2nd movement is followed by the exciting 5/8 finale. A pianist's dream.

I have the same opinion. I'm not sure why the Piano Concerto is so neglected. I feel the same way about the Cello Concerto.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on August 23, 2015, 10:44:14 AM
I was delighted to hear the wonderful Second Essay played live in London this afternoon (Boston SO/Nelsons). I have never heard this work in concert before and this was a great performance. I know that this is sacrilegious but my brother and I agreed that the terrific end of the Second Essay would have made a better ending to Roy Harris's Third Symphony than the one that Harris himself wrote. :o
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on August 23, 2015, 10:51:33 AM
I was delighted to hear the wonderful Second Essay played live in London this afternoon (Boston SO/Nelsons). I have never heard this work in concert before and this was a great performance. I know that this is sacrilegious but my brother and I agreed that the terrific end of the Second Essay would have made a better ending to Roy Harris's Third Symphony than the one that Harris himself wrote. :o

It's okay as I don't like Roy Harris, so you are forgiven, Jeffrey. ;) ;D
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Maestro267 on August 23, 2015, 11:02:05 AM
My favourite Barber work at present (having not heard everything he wrote) is the Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra. Very thrilling piece, and the organ pedal cadenza is stunning!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on August 23, 2015, 11:06:15 AM
It's okay as I don't like Roy Harris, so you are forgiven, Jeffrey. ;) ;D
Actually I like Roy Harris's Third Symphony very much - I just think that the end is not as good as the end of Barber's Second Essay, although it depends a bit on the performance I guess.

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 23, 2015, 11:35:19 AM
I was delighted to hear the wonderful Second Essay played live in London this afternoon (Boston SO/Nelsons). I have never heard this work in concert before and this was a great performance.

Splendid!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Christo on August 23, 2015, 08:24:18 PM
Splendid!
Seconded!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 16, 2016, 03:39:19 PM
Barber's Second Symphony is great IMHO. He should never have withdrawn it - like Vaughan Williams excising the best and most moving section of 'A London Symphony' in 1936 - madness:

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 16, 2016, 08:17:57 PM
Barber's Second Symphony is great IMHO. He should never have withdrawn it - like Vaughan Williams excising the best and most moving section of 'A London Symphony' in 1936 - madness:



Symphony No. 2 is a fantastic piece no question about it. That slow movement is something else. I do, however, prefer the Alsop performance as I think she gets to the heart better than Jarvi and Schneck IMHO.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 16, 2016, 11:53:27 PM
Symphony No. 2 is a fantastic piece no question about it. That slow movement is something else. I do, however, prefer the Alsop performance as I think she gets to the heart better than Jarvi and Schneck IMHO.
Thanks John. I have all those recordings as well as two conducted by Barber himself, so I will definitely be listening to the Alsop following your recommendation. I like the Jarvi recording quality though on Chandos. I also have a recording by Koussevitsky.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 17, 2016, 04:33:26 AM
Thanks John. I have all those recordings as well as two conducted by Barber himself, so I will definitely be listening to the Alsop following your recommendation. I like the Jarvi recording quality though on Chandos. I also have a recording by Koussevitsky.

Perhaps I'm speaking from a general biased POV but I've always had some problems with Jarvi's interpretations of music. I don't think Barber was a good fit nor do I seriously believe that he understood the composer well enough to conduct the music. Alsop, on the other hand, seems to have lived with this music a lot longer and, for her, it wasn't a matter of wanting to record Barber, it was a need IMHO. That's why I mentioned she gets inside the music, in particular, this symphony, better than anyone. 8)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 18, 2016, 05:37:58 AM
Perhaps I'm speaking from a general biased POV but I've always had some problems with Jarvi's interpretations of music. I don't think Barber was a good fit nor do I seriously believe that he understood the composer well enough to conduct the music. Alsop, on the other hand, seems to have lived with this music a lot longer and, for her, it wasn't a matter of wanting to record Barber, it was a need IMHO. That's why I mentioned she gets inside the music, in particular, this symphony, better than anyone. 8)
Thanks John. I will listen to the Alsop. Personally I think I enjoyed Jarvi's Chandos CDs of American composers more than many. For example the CD with Copland and Harris's Third symphonies is always panned but I enjoyed it, especially the Copland although I recognise that there are several stronger performances on CD.
Just listening to this CD - one of my favourites of music by Barber. Excellent transfers of historic recordings by the composer himself. Also, I like all three works. The Cello Concerto is underrated - I prefer it to the Piano Concerto; the cover is the best photo of Barber I have seen:

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 18, 2016, 03:43:14 PM
Thanks John. I will listen to the Alsop. Personally I think I enjoyed Jarvi's Chandos CDs of American composers more than many. For example the CD with Copland and Harris's Third symphonies is always panned but I enjoyed it, especially the Copland although I recognise that there are several stronger performances on CD.
Just listening to this CD - one of my favourites of music by Barber. Excellent transfers of historic recordings by the composer himself. Also, I like all three works. The Cello Concerto is underrated - I prefer it to the Piano Concerto; the cover is the best photo of Barber I have seen:



I agree that the Cello Concerto is quite underrated. The best performance of this concerto I've heard is the Gastinel/Brown recording on Naive. If you haven't heard this magnificent performance then check it out (it's coupled with a less satisfying performance of Elgar's CC).
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 18, 2016, 11:20:43 PM
I agree that the Cello Concerto is quite underrated. The best performance of this concerto I've heard is the Gastinel/Brown recording on Naive. If you haven't heard this magnificent performance then check it out (it's coupled with a less satisfying performance of Elgar's CC).
Never heard of that version of the CC - many thanks. I think that the Cello Concerto has a better last movement that either the Violin or Piano Concerto. I've now ordered your recommendation which I found for under £3.00 on Amazon UK!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 19, 2016, 03:10:56 AM
Never heard of that version of the CC - many thanks. I think that the Cello Concerto has a better last movement that either the Violin or Piano Concerto. I've now ordered your recommendation which I found for under £3.00 on Amazon UK!
Sweet!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 19, 2016, 04:33:14 AM
Never heard of that version of the CC - many thanks. I think that the Cello Concerto has a better last movement that either the Violin or Piano Concerto. I've now ordered your recommendation which I found for under £3.00 on Amazon UK!

Very nice, indeed. Hope you enjoy the performance as much as I have.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Maestro267 on February 19, 2016, 06:34:45 AM
My favourite Barber piece of the few I've heard is the Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra, followed by the 3rd Essay, then the Piano Concerto. I'm thinking of getting the Alsop disc with the two symphonies on it next.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 19, 2016, 06:38:48 AM
I need to revisit Barber . . . .
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 19, 2016, 03:26:03 PM
I'm thinking of getting the Alsop disc with the two symphonies on it next.

It's a great recording, Maestro. All of Alsop's Barber series is worth checking out, although I'm not crazy about any of the concerti performances as I've been rather spoilt by other performances I've heard through the years and have found myself preferring those to Alsop's.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 19, 2016, 03:47:07 PM
I need to revisit Barber . . . .

A resounding YES!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 20, 2016, 01:53:00 AM
A resounding YES!
My favourites are the two symphonies (I don't think he should have withdrawn No.2), the Violin and Cello Concerto and especially the Essay for Orchestra No.2 and 'Knoxville: Summer of 1914' - I also like the Medea music very much.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 20, 2016, 08:41:42 AM
My favourites are the two symphonies (I don't think he should have withdrawn No.2), the Violin and Cello Concerto and especially the Essay for Orchestra No.2 and 'Knoxville: Summer of 1914' - I also like the Medea music very much.

And a jovial YES to all of those choices!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: relm1 on February 23, 2016, 08:17:41 AM
Any thoughts on "Anthony and Cleopatra"?  Is it worth hearing and if so, what performance or recording?  I know it was a disaster at the premiere then underwent a series of extensive revisions...is it worth exploring?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on February 23, 2016, 09:32:00 AM
Any thoughts on "Anthony and Cleopatra"?  Is it worth hearing and if so, what performance or recording?  I know it was a disaster at the premiere then underwent a series of extensive revisions...is it worth exploring?

Never heard the work, but that disastrous premiere certainly weighed heavily on Barber and it pretty much ruined his professional life. His composing activity actually went into to decline after the failure of this opera.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Brewski on February 23, 2016, 09:53:45 AM
Any thoughts on "Anthony and Cleopatra"?  Is it worth hearing and if so, what performance or recording?  I know it was a disaster at the premiere then underwent a series of extensive revisions...is it worth exploring?

I've heard the opera several times on different recordings, including a 1991 performance from Lyric Opera of Chicago, but have never seen it staged. But I recall much of Barber's music to be quite beautiful, with his typical melodic invention present. Apparently the bigger problem was the libretto, which Gian-Carlo Menotti later helped him revise.

As far as recordings, there can't be many! The one below has been the one most often mentioned when I've discussed it with friends.



--Bruce
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 23, 2016, 10:07:02 AM
I've heard the opera several times on different recordings, including a 1991 performance from Lyric Opera of Chicago, but have never seen it staged. But I recall much of Barber's music to be quite beautiful, with his typical melodic invention present. Apparently the bigger problem was the libretto, which Gian-Carlo Menotti later helped him revise.

As far as recordings, there can't be many! The one below has been the one most often mentioned when I've discussed it with friends.



--Bruce

Definitely must listen to the samples from that . . . .
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Scion7 on February 23, 2016, 04:03:48 PM
Although it was a commercial and critical disaster, there are some nice moments musically in A&C.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: relm1 on February 23, 2016, 04:14:09 PM
I've heard the opera several times on different recordings, including a 1991 performance from Lyric Opera of Chicago, but have never seen it staged. But I recall much of Barber's music to be quite beautiful, with his typical melodic invention present. Apparently the bigger problem was the libretto, which Gian-Carlo Menotti later helped him revise.

As far as recordings, there can't be many! The one below has been the one most often mentioned when I've discussed it with friends.



--Bruce

Sometimes great works are unfairly neglected because of production issues.  I also read that the problem of the 1966 performance was embarrassingly extravagant staging by Franco Zeffirelli.   
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Guido on February 23, 2016, 06:33:44 PM
Hello all. Long time since I've posted here, but I'm directing Barber's Vanessa in Cambridge, UK on 3, 4, 5th March if any of you would like to come. Excellent cast, with superb pianist accompanying. :)

It's a teenage dream come true - I used to post here a lot about Barber as he was one of my absolute favourites. Vanessa was the first opera I loved - long before I fell in love with opera as a genre.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Brewski on February 23, 2016, 08:28:34 PM
Sometimes great works are unfairly neglected because of production issues.  I also read that the problem of the 1966 performance was embarrassingly extravagant staging by Franco Zeffirelli.

Yes, I had heard that, too. (Some of the reviews I found alluded to that.) Though I actually like some of Zeffirelli's productions, somehow he and Barber don't seem like good chemistry.

Hello all. Long time since I've posted here, but I'm directing Barber's Vanessa in Cambridge, UK on 3, 4, 5th March if any of you would like to come. Excellent cast, with superb pianist accompanying. :)

It's a teenage dream come true - I used to post here a lot about Barber as he was one of my absolute favourites. Vanessa was the first opera I loved - long before I fell in love with opera as a genre.

Wow, fantastic - congratulations! Hope it goes well, and feel free to post photos, audio excerpts, etc.

--Bruce
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on February 24, 2016, 12:07:28 AM
Hello all. Long time since I've posted here, but I'm directing Barber's Vanessa in Cambridge, UK on 3, 4, 5th March if any of you would like to come. Excellent cast, with superb pianist accompanying. :)

It's a teenage dream come true - I used to post here a lot about Barber as he was one of my absolute favourites. Vanessa was the first opera I loved - long before I fell in love with opera as a genre.
How very exciting - that is great news and nice to see you posting here again.  :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 05:26:06 AM
Although it was a commercial and critical disaster [...]

Which, as we know, may not be any reliable judgment.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 24, 2016, 05:26:44 AM
Hello all. Long time since I've posted here, but I'm directing Barber's Vanessa in Cambridge, UK on 3, 4, 5th March if any of you would like to come. Excellent cast, with superb pianist accompanying. :)

It's a teenage dream come true - I used to post here a lot about Barber as he was one of my absolute favourites. Vanessa was the first opera I loved - long before I fell in love with opera as a genre.

Conquer, Guido!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair PIANO SONATA, hEY, THIS THING ROCKS?!?!!!
Post by: snyprrr on December 30, 2016, 02:16:41 PM
Piano Sonata

Heard it for the first time today. Hey, not at ALL what I expected. "American Romantic",... uh,....NO!! And I wasn't expecting the two quick movements to be so angular and bleepy/bloopy,... in all I was quite impressed! It just sounded "modern" to me, but it is obviously of a conservative modernism, but, it sure isn't Rachy or anything, or Copland and such. It seemed very thoughtful, though I felt it was a bit rushed as a Composition, like he wanted to get it over with or something, a bit short to be the Big American Piano Sonata. But, it has a sheen, sports car American Academic, thoughtful, sincere, with some turbo charging- Barber doesn't really sissy out here, and I say again that I was pleasantly surprised. I might even give the whole SQ a go (Tokyo SQ;RCA).

So, is my assessment correct?- a bit more badass than I had a right to expect?,... or, I just didn't know Sammy?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair PIANO SONATA, hEY, THIS THING ROCKS?!?!!!
Post by: lescamil on December 30, 2016, 03:40:11 PM
Piano Sonata

Heard it for the first time today. Hey, not at ALL what I expected. "American Romantic",... uh,....NO!! And I wasn't expecting the two quick movements to be so angular and bleepy/bloopy,... in all I was quite impressed! It just sounded "modern" to me, but it is obviously of a conservative modernism, but, it sure isn't Rachy or anything, or Copland and such. It seemed very thoughtful, though I felt it was a bit rushed as a Composition, like he wanted to get it over with or something, a bit short to be the Big American Piano Sonata. But, it has a sheen, sports car American Academic, thoughtful, sincere, with some turbo charging- Barber doesn't really sissy out here, and I say again that I was pleasantly surprised. I might even give the whole SQ a go (Tokyo SQ;RCA).

So, is my assessment correct?- a bit more badass than I had a right to expect?,... or, I just didn't know Sammy?

Which recording did you listen to? I've lived with the piece in my life for a while and disagree with you on many points. It sounds to me like a work where he tried to stretch himself to the limit in many facets. I've examined the score numerous times and keep finding new things in there that show his genius. Just take the way he uses 12 tone technique in a dramatic, quasi-tonal fashion in the 3rd movement, or how he writes such a powerful fugue to round it all out. To me, this is Barber's best work that isn't for orchestra.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair PIANO SONATA, hEY, THIS THING ROCKS?!?!!!
Post by: snyprrr on December 31, 2016, 09:56:32 AM
Which recording did you listen to? I've lived with the piece in my life for a while and disagree with you on many points. It sounds to me like a work where he tried to stretch himself to the limit in many facets. I've examined the score numerous times and keep finding new things in there that show his genius. Just take the way he uses 12 tone technique in a dramatic, quasi-tonal fashion in the 3rd movement, or how he writes such a powerful fugue to round it all out. To me, this is Barber's best work that isn't for orchestra.

Peter Lawson (Virgin)

Yea,...no,... all I know is that it put me on my ear... I wasn't expecting what i got, and was pleasantly surprised. Maybe Lawson emphasized the modernity? Well, kudos to Barber for pushing himself...

Tell me more...
Title: Re: The Barber Chair PIANO SONATA, hEY, THIS THING ROCKS?!?!!!
Post by: Monsieur Croche on December 31, 2016, 12:57:00 PM
Piano Sonata

Heard it for the first time today. Hey, not at ALL what I expected. "American Romantic",... uh,....NO!! And I wasn't expecting the two quick movements to be so angular and bleepy/bloopy,... in all I was quite impressed! It just sounded "modern" to me...
So, is my assessment correct?- a bit more badass than I had a right to expect?,... or, I just didn't know Sammy?

You just didn't know Sam ;-)

The Piano Concerto is pretty rugged, too, while it does have a more usually expected lyric middle movement, that movement is rife throughout with an ominous tension.
https://www.youtube.com/v/HobIr7logJc
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Andante on December 31, 2016, 01:12:41 PM
I have Hilary Hahn playing the Violin concerto and to be quite honest I do not rate this work very highly to me it is sickly sweet and is only another concerto.
NB. I am in no way referring to Hahn.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair PIANO SONATA, hEY, THIS THING ROCKS?!?!!!
Post by: Monsieur Croche on December 31, 2016, 01:15:29 PM

Tell me more...

..." written by Samuel Barber in 1949 for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the League of Composers.  First performed by Vladimir Horowitz... ~ Wiki

Horowitz
https://www.youtube.com/v/Uiu4dA-dUYE

John Browning (for whom Barber specifically wrote his Piano Concerto.)
https://www.youtube.com/v/6evRy3Jf6-E


Best regards
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Monsieur Croche on December 31, 2016, 01:38:15 PM
I have Hilary Hahn playing the Violin concerto and to be quite honest I do not rate this work very highly to me it is sickly sweet and is only another concerto.

You must just absolutely hate the life-threateningly sweet Adagio for Strings and the choral Agnus Dei the adagio spawned, then :-)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Monsieur Croche on December 31, 2016, 02:46:51 PM
Perhaps another "You didn't know Sam," might be Capricorn Concerto, op. 21.

https://www.youtube.com/v/u_yHhkM_I8E

Another type of "You didn't know," (or 'knew of but never actually met,')
The 'Cello Concerto.
There is current superb performance / recording of the 'Cello Concerto; it is Op. 22, the next work following the Capricorn, and still redolent with a lot of the neoclassical traits of the former work.

Yo-Yo Ma; Baltimore Symphony, David Zinman
https://www.youtube.com/v/i9ZhuU2EzWM
2nd and 3rd movements:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOzmYWzCtzs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmo68IipMQs
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Andante on December 31, 2016, 03:23:07 PM
You must just absolutely hate the life-threateningly sweet Adagio for Strings and the choral Agnus Dei the adagio spawned, then :-)
No I don't hate any music, like most people I have my likes and don't likes. 
Title: Re: The Barber Chair PIANO SONATA, hEY, THIS THING ROCKS?!?!!!
Post by: lescamil on January 01, 2017, 11:02:03 AM
Peter Lawson (Virgin)

Yea,...no,... all I know is that it put me on my ear... I wasn't expecting what i got, and was pleasantly surprised. Maybe Lawson emphasized the modernity? Well, kudos to Barber for pushing himself...

Tell me more...

I've heard the Lawson recording and it just sounds very dry and almost metronomic to me. The spirit of the work is romantic, in my opinion, and it might be fair to say that he gives it a "modern" reading, albeit a rather boring one. Listen to Browning, Hamelin, or Terrence Judd for a better version of the work.

The piano concerto... what an amazing work. I am a little too hungover to go into it right now, though...
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: pjme on January 02, 2017, 05:23:06 AM
Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra . Barber grandioso.

https://youtu.be/-RQBXzXzKJ4

(part 2 is also on YT°.

P.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: snyprrr on January 02, 2017, 02:37:25 PM
Perhaps another "You didn't know Sam," might be Capricorn Concerto, op. 21.

https://www.youtube.com/v/u_yHhkM_I8E

Another type of "You didn't know," (or 'knew of but never actually met,')
The 'Cello Concerto.
There is current superb performance / recording of the 'Cello Concerto; it is Op. 22, the next work following the Capricorn, and still redolent with a lot of the neoclassical traits of the former work.

Yo-Yo Ma; Baltimore Symphony, David Zinman
https://www.youtube.com/v/i9ZhuU2EzWM
2nd and 3rd movements:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOzmYWzCtzs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmo68IipMQs

Oh yes, now I am reminded... I actually have those around here somewhere...

I've heard the Lawson recording and it just sounds very dry and almost metronomic to me. The spirit of the work is romantic, in my opinion, and it might be fair to say that he gives it a "modern" reading, albeit a rather boring one. Listen to Browning, Hamelin, or Terrence Judd for a better version of the work.

The piano concerto... what an amazing work. I am a little too hungover to go into it right now, though...

I can see how Lawson is more steely and grey coloured, perhaps to complement the Ives, Copland, and Carter? But now I wonder if I'll like the more full bodied performances...


Yea, I forgot about all the concertos (except the VC maybe), Barber is a little more ballsy than I was thinking (why and what waaas I thinking?- I already know all this, maybe I was throwing Barber under the bus in my recollection, or maybe it was just the liner notes in the Lawson disc and the use of the term 'Romantic'??) I kept thinking I was going to hear Rachmaninoff... but no.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on January 02, 2017, 08:58:51 PM
Let me add that Barber's Capricorn Concerto is a great work.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on January 02, 2017, 09:22:27 PM
Let me add that Barber's Capricorn Concerto is a great work.
Hear hear. Probably my favourite thing he has written out of everything I've heard.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Madiel on January 02, 2017, 11:53:02 PM
Let me add that Barber's Capricorn Concerto is a great work.

Haven't reached that one in the Alsop box yet.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: snyprrr on January 03, 2017, 01:08:58 PM
Let me add that Barber's Capricorn Concerto is a great work.

Awright... let's break out the Clark... around here... somewhere...
Title: Re: The Barber Chair PIANO SONATA, hEY, THIS THING ROCKS?!?!!!
Post by: Rons_talking on January 03, 2017, 01:42:36 PM
Piano Sonata

Heard it for the first time today. Hey, not at ALL what I expected. "American Romantic",... uh,....NO!! And I wasn't expecting the two quick movements to be so angular and bleepy/bloopy,... in all I was quite impressed! It just sounded "modern" to me, but it is obviously of a conservative modernism, but, it sure isn't Rachy or anything, or Copland and such. It seemed very thoughtful, though I felt it was a bit rushed as a Composition, like he wanted to get it over with or something, a bit short to be the Big American Piano Sonata. But, it has a sheen, sports car American Academic, thoughtful, sincere, with some turbo charging- Barber doesn't really sissy out here, and I say again that I was pleasantly surprised. I might even give the whole SQ a go (Tokyo SQ;RCA).

So, is my assessment correct?- a bit more badass than I had a right to expect?,... or, I just didn't know Sammy?

In my opinion, it's one of Barber's masterworks. He certainly isn't fooling around! It's as if he read remarks asserting his style was all soft, pretty and lyrical and he responded, saying "hum this!" The power in the semitone motive as well as the cascading fourths and down-right audacious change of phrase, mood and register makes it one of my favourite "power sonatas." Another is Session's 2nd PS written around the same time. The Barber Sonata is a thrill to hear...I'm surprised more pianists don't perform it. But that's another story.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on January 03, 2017, 07:38:38 PM
Awright... let's break out the Clark... around here... somewhere...

Let me know what you think about once you've revisited it.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair CAPRICORN CONCERTO
Post by: snyprrr on January 05, 2017, 05:09:20 PM
Let me know what you think about once you've revisited it.

1) I always remember the impact of the opening of the Mercury recording, very alive, but I haven't had that one around...

2) So, I have it as an "also-ran" on the Albany/TROY recording with Keith Clark conducting. Now, all items here, Barber, Copland, and Harris, I believe were recorded at different times and locations,... I believe,... and, of course, it works great for the Harris, but, and I remember having this issue the last time I listened to the Barber, is, the sound here isn't as sumptuous as one might hope for: it's fine and all, but a little wanting in that "alive" factor I recall from the Mercury.

So, then, the music has to do the trick. I noticed the principles are all famous musicians (Plog on trumpet!, DeTullio, flute...), so, the playing is fine.

Well...

OK, there's that "Neo-Classical", "concerto grosso", Stravinsky=Copland kind of opening (I also heard some Harrisness towards the end of the piece). And it's off,... but, and I was really paying attention and all, but I was starting to,.. to,.. to,... oy, it's only 11mins., I've got 7 to go!!

So, first off, at 18mins., it just seemed a little long. As a Neo-Classical piece, I would have loved if Igor had perhaps looked it over and said he liked it but here's where you can make some cuts... and, at this point in my listening, that opening figure just grates on me as a typical Igor-ism. BUT- I do surely have a feeling that the Mercury might change my mind. Hold on, let me YT it...


(later)


OK, so, even the opening of the Mercury emits blazing energy, which I don't get from Clark. And the sound is in your face good.

So, that screws my whole..... is this piece really 18mins. long??


Eh,.. sorry, John, whatever the piece's merits, I think there's something up with the Clark. Can someone else tell me what's up here- just a energy draining recording??

The music seems instantly likable in the Mercury guise, seems to drag on in the Albany?


I waaas surprised by Copland's 'Prairie Radio Music'. I wasn't expecting "real" music here, but, it sounds like one of his best pieces, imo. Huh.


So, yea, there was other music on that Harris gettysburg CD, LOL!! :laugh:
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on August 18, 2017, 07:25:56 AM
As all the local record shops have sadly closed down and the musical instrument shop has sold off all their remaining CDs (I purchased five  >:D) I only have the local HMV shop whose classical selection ('Mozart's a Greatest Hits' etc) diminishes with each visit. Therefore I was delighted to find this CD, unknown to me, on their shelves today. Frankly it is sensational in regard to all three works. The Randall Thompson is a very nice life-affirming score with a highly memorable opening movement and it should be much better known. When I heard that young Samuel Adams ( born 1985) incorporated electronic elements in his music I was not expecting much but I loved his 'Drift and Providence' and found it much more approachable and tonal and memorable than anticipated. It is a musical depiction of the Pacific Ocean and lies IMHO on a spectrum between John Luther Adams's 'Become Ocean' and Alan Hovhaness's 'And a God Created Great Whales' - I really enjoyed it (for full orchestra, electronic devices and the composer on his laptop 😀). Best of all was the sensational performance of Barber's First Symphony - the most moving I have heard, especially the way that the final section is played slower than usual. The best performance since William Strickland with the Japanese PO and much better recorded.

Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 14, 2018, 03:51:01 AM
Just finished this documentary after spreading it out over a two-day period (it’s around 2 hrs. in duration):

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91Ugisxlw9L._SL1500_.jpg)

Let me just say that for anyone with any interest in this composer owes it to themselves to see this film. It may very well be the best composer documentary I’ve ever seen and really gets to the heart of the composer. One of the most rewarding features of this film is how it takes you through works from the very beginning until the end of the composer’s life. Two parts of this film I found particularly interesting were the discussions of the Cello Sonata and Cello Concerto. Two, IMHO, underrated works in Barber’s oeuvre. A must see!

Just a note that this landed a few days ago.  I am saving it for a treat to watch when I am done with Deep Breath.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on May 14, 2018, 05:05:15 AM
Just a note that this landed a few days ago.  I am saving it for a treat to watch when I am done with Deep Breath.

Great stuff, Karl. 8)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 14, 2018, 05:38:58 AM
I'm looking forward to it!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on May 14, 2018, 06:08:29 AM
I'm looking forward to it!
Me too!
 :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kyjo on May 14, 2018, 06:42:22 PM
As all the local record shops have sadly closed down and the musical instrument shop has sold off all their remaining CDs (I purchased five  >:D) I only have the local HMV shop whose classical selection ('Mozart's a Greatest Hits' etc) diminishes with each visit. Therefore I was delighted to find this CD, unknown to me, on their shelves today. Frankly it is sensational in regard to all three works. The Randall Thompson is a very nice life-affirming score with a highly memorable opening movement and it should be much better known. When I heard that young Samuel Adams ( born 1985) incorporated electronic elements in his music I was not expecting much but I loved his 'Drift and Providence' and found it much more approachable and tonal and memorable than anticipated. It is a musical depiction of the Pacific Ocean and lies IMHO on a spectrum between John Luther Adams's 'Become Ocean' and Alan Hovhaness's 'And a God Created Great Whales' - I really enjoyed it (for full orchestra, electronic devices and the composer on his laptop 😀). Best of all was the sensational performance of Barber's First Symphony - the most moving I have heard, especially the way that the final section is played slower than usual. The best performance since William Strickland with the Japanese PO and much better recorded.



I've listened to the Thompson symphony on this recording (which is great) but not yet the Barber - on the basis of your praise I simply must!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on May 14, 2018, 10:35:01 PM
I've listened to the Thompson symphony on this recording (which is great) but not yet the Barber - on the basis of your praise I simply must!
Well, I hope that you enjoy the rest of the CD as much as I did Kyle! It was great to actually find this CD unexpectedly on the shelves of my local HMV shop. Let us know what you think of the rest of the CD.
 :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kyjo on May 15, 2018, 10:34:16 AM
Was just listening to the Cello Concerto (Ma/Baltimore/Zinman on Sony) and was enjoying it much more than I had previously. However, I find that the finale, like that of the Violin Concerto, often succumbs to rather empty virtuosity and lacks the soulful lyricism of the first two movements.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on May 15, 2018, 05:34:37 PM
Was just listening to the Cello Concerto (Ma/Baltimore/Zinman on Sony) and was enjoying it much more than I had previously. However, I find that the finale, like that of the Violin Concerto, often succumbs to rather empty virtuosity and lacks the soulful lyricism of the first two movements.

I find nothing wrong with either concerto and love them both dearly. Also, Ma/Zinman isn’t a great performance by any stretch. My preferences here are Gastinel/Brown (on Naive) and Poltera/Litton (on BIS). I’ve heard almost all of the performances of the Cello Concerto.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on May 15, 2018, 09:02:52 PM
Was just listening to the Cello Concerto (Ma/Baltimore/Zinman on Sony) and was enjoying it much more than I had previously. However, I find that the finale, like that of the Violin Concerto, often succumbs to rather empty virtuosity and lacks the soulful lyricism of the first two movements.

I like both but probably prefer the Cello Concerto, which I knew before the VC. I agree that the first two movements of the VC are wonderful but prefer the Cello Concerto as a whole. I came across it on an old Decca Eclipse (them again!) LP in my youth, unususually coupled with Alan Rawsthorne's fine Piano Concerto 2 ( my first encounter with that excellent work as well).
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on May 30, 2018, 10:14:25 AM
Well, this is currently my favourite Barber CD:


Jarvi Senior gets a certain amount of criticism, which I often don't subscribe to. His recording with the Detroit SO of Copland and Harris's 3rd symphonies on Chandos, for example, gets negative reviews although I've always enjoyed it. This CD combines the two symphonies, original released separately. The recording and performance of both are excellent and No.2 IMHO emerges as the equal to the magnificent No.1. Barber was mistaken to withdraw it. Both works are performed with a great sense of urgency and I immediately had to repeat the disc.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Baron Scarpia on May 30, 2018, 10:30:58 AM
Well, this is currently my favourite Barber CD:


Jarvi Senior gets a certain amount of criticism, which I often don't subscribe to. His recording with the Detroit SO of Copland and Harris's 3rd symphonies on Chandos, for example, gets negative reviews although I've always enjoyed it. This CD combines the two symphonies, original released separately. The recording and performance of both are excellent and No.2 IMHO emerges as the equal to the magnificent No.1. Barber was mistaken to withdraw it. Both works are performed with a great sense of urgency and I immediately had to repeat the disc.

I have those, should find time to listen.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on May 30, 2018, 11:32:26 AM
I have those, should find time to listen.

Hope you enjoy the symphonies as much as I have. I have owned this CD for some time but was totally gripped by both performances and had forgotten, or never realised, just how good it is - the ending of No.2 had me on the edge of my seat.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on May 30, 2018, 05:43:34 PM
Well, this is currently my favourite Barber CD:


Jarvi Senior gets a certain amount of criticism, which I often don't subscribe to. His recording with the Detroit SO of Copland and Harris's 3rd symphonies on Chandos, for example, gets negative reviews although I've always enjoyed it. This CD combines the two symphonies, original released separately. The recording and performance of both are excellent and No.2 IMHO emerges as the equal to the magnificent No.1. Barber was mistaken to withdraw it. Both works are performed with a great sense of urgency and I immediately had to repeat the disc.

Interesting you brought up this disc, Jeffrey, as this one of the first Barber discs I’ve owned. I, too, do not subscribe to the Järvi ‘hate club’ as he’s been a conductor of whom I’ve made so many remarkable discoveries. I also own his other Barber disc:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51MAD6lqIWL.jpg)

While I don’t necessarily agree with your appraisal of Järvi’s Barber, I have to say these were quite good performances until I heard Alsop’s performances of all of the works that Järvi recorded. Alsop seemed to dig a bit deeper into the music. For me, Järvi is at his best in Nordic and Russian music.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on May 30, 2018, 09:37:00 PM
Interesting you brought up this disc, Jeffrey, as this one of the first Barber discs I’ve owned. I, too, do not subscribe to the Järvi ‘hate club’ as he’s been a conductor of whom I’ve made so many remarkable discoveries. I also own his other Barber disc:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51MAD6lqIWL.jpg)

While I don’t necessarily agree with your appraisal of Järvi’s Barber, I have to say these were quite good performances until I heard Alsop’s performances of all of the works that Järvi recorded. Alsop seemed to dig a bit deeper into the music. For me, Järvi is at his best in Nordic and Russian music.

Thanks John. That other Barber CD is very tempting ( ::)) especially as 'Essay No.2' is one of my favourite works and not just by Barber. I have the Alsop CD of the symphonies and must listen again to it. For some reason it did not make as strong an impression on me as on everyone else. I shall look forward to hearing it again but, for the moment,I'm love that Jarvi CD. He is indeed a fine conductor of Nordic and Russian music.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kyjo on May 31, 2018, 05:15:24 AM
Well, this is currently my favourite Barber CD:


Jarvi Senior gets a certain amount of criticism, which I often don't subscribe to. His recording with the Detroit SO of Copland and Harris's 3rd symphonies on Chandos, for example, gets negative reviews although I've always enjoyed it. This CD combines the two symphonies, original released separately. The recording and performance of both are excellent and No.2 IMHO emerges as the equal to the magnificent No.1. Barber was mistaken to withdraw it. Both works are performed with a great sense of urgency and I immediately had to repeat the disc.

Thanks for this, Jeffrey. I’ve only listened to the 2nd Symphony in the Alsop recording on Naxos, and I didn’t have a very positive reaction to it. I’ll be sure to listen to the Järvi recording at some juncture. At least on first listening, the 2nd Symphony seems closer to the hard-edged style of William Schuman than to Barber’s own lyrical, neo-Romanic idiom, interestingly enough. I do like the angry, percussive climax of the first movement.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on May 31, 2018, 06:13:40 AM
Thanks for this, Jeffrey. I’ve only listened to the 2nd Symphony in the Alsop recording on Naxos, and I didn’t have a very positive reaction to it. I’ll be sure to listen to the Järvi recording at some juncture. At least on first listening, the 2nd Symphony seems closer to the hard-edged style of William Schuman than to Barber’s own lyrical, neo-Romanic idiom, interestingly enough. I do like the angry, percussive climax of the first movement.

That's true Kyle although it has a very poetic slow movement as well, which Barber thought highly enough of, after withdrawing the symphony, to make into a separate stand-alone work 'Night Flight' after the book by Saint-Exupery, who happens to be one of my favourite authors. There's a fine recording of Barber's 'Night Flight' conducted by the sadly missed David Measham, who made a number of interesting recordings (Miaskovsky, Kabalevsky, Goossens) on the old Unicorn label.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kyjo on September 13, 2018, 05:44:26 AM
My university's orchestra is putting on a wonderful program this weekend which includes three Barber works - the Violin Concerto, Overture to The School for Scandal, and the Second Essay (along with Respighi's Feste Romane and the world premiere of a work by Roberto Sierra). I've always loved Barber's music, but having the opportunity to play these three masterful works has taken my admiration for it to another level. In particular, I've found the Second Essay to be a really satisfying, dramatic, ingenious, and ultimately redemptive work.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on September 13, 2018, 05:56:57 AM
My university's orchestra is putting on a wonderful program this weekend which includes three Barber works - the Violin Concerto, Overture to The School for Scandal, and the Second Essay (along with Respighi's Feste Romane and the world premiere of a work by Roberto Sierra). I've always loved Barber's music, but having the opportunity to play these three masterful works has taken my admiration for it to another level. In particular, I've found the Second Essay to be a really satisfying, dramatic, ingenious, and ultimately redemptive work.
How exciting!
The Second Essay for Orchestra, despite its rather 'academic' title is perhaps my favourite work by Barber (although Symphony 1 and 2 and Knoxville rank very highly as well). I think that the conclusion of the Second Essay is even more effective than the conclusion of Roy Haris's legendary Third Symphony - it is indeed a 'redemptive' ending.

I hope that the concert goes well Kyle.
 :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Madiel on September 13, 2018, 01:12:02 PM
My university's orchestra is putting on a wonderful program this weekend which includes three Barber works - the Violin Concerto, Overture to The School for Scandal, and the Second Essay (along with Respighi's Feste Romane and the world premiere of a work by Roberto Sierra). I've always loved Barber's music, but having the opportunity to play these three masterful works has taken my admiration for it to another level. In particular, I've found the Second Essay to be a really satisfying, dramatic, ingenious, and ultimately redemptive work.

Nice.

What instrument do you play?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Christo on September 15, 2018, 05:20:48 AM
In particular, I've found the Second Essay to be a really satisfying, dramatic, ingenious, and ultimately redemptive work.
Amen. First heard in on the radio when I was 15 - David Measham conducting, I guess. It was during a hot afternoon in August, ending with a thunderstorm. Recorded it, played it again and fell under its spell forever.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on September 16, 2018, 10:16:12 AM
Amen. First heard in on the radio when I was 15 - David Measham conducting, I guess. It was during a hot afternoon in August, ending with a thunderstorm. Recorded it, played it again and fell under its spell forever.
And that David Measham performance is very fine as was his recording of Miaskovsky's poetic and eloquent 21st Symphony and Goossens Symphony 1 ( never released on CD  >:D >:D)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kyjo on September 16, 2018, 06:49:09 PM
How exciting!
The Second Essay for Orchestra, despite its rather 'academic' title is perhaps my favourite work by Barber (although Symphony 1 and 2 and Knoxville rank very highly as well). I think that the conclusion of the Second Essay is even more effective than the conclusion of Roy Haris's legendary Third Symphony - it is indeed a 'redemptive' ending.

I hope that the concert goes well Kyle.
 :)

Thanks, Jeffrey! Just played the concert earlier tonight and it was a wonderful experience.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kyjo on September 16, 2018, 06:49:32 PM
Nice.

What instrument do you play?

Cello!  :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Maestro267 on September 19, 2018, 06:39:02 AM
On a whim, I've decided to listen to all three Essays for Orchestra together.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: kyjo on September 20, 2018, 10:52:53 AM
On a whim, I've decided to listen to all three Essays for Orchestra together.

All three are superb works and among Barber's finest achievements IMO.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on September 20, 2018, 09:34:23 PM
All three are superb works and among Barber's finest achievements IMO.
No.2 in particular is a magnificent work - that ending is very special and very moving.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Brian on May 22, 2019, 08:59:43 AM
Conversation with the girlfriend last night as I played Previn's recording of "Excursions":

"This is awful. What is this?"

"American piano music."

"It's terrible. Who is it by?"

"Samuel Barber."

"Okay, for future reference, I hate everything by Barber."

"I think you'll like the violin concerto if we ever see it live."

"...uhhhh... well, just so you know, you can't play this CD when I'm in the house."

 ;D
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image on May 22, 2019, 07:07:58 PM
Conversation with the girlfriend last night as I played Previn's recording of "Excursions":

"This is awful. What is this?"

"American piano music."

"It's terrible. Who is it by?"

"Samuel Barber."

"Okay, for future reference, I hate everything by Barber."

"I think you'll like the violin concerto if we ever see it live."

"...uhhhh... well, just so you know, you can't play this CD when I'm in the house."

 ;D

Your girlfriend may rule what’s played on the stereo (or wherever), but Excursions is a fine piece by Barber. One work you should never play her is Ives’ Concord Sonata. She may end up leaving you. ;) :D (FYI, I love Ives’ Concord Sonata as well.)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Ghost of Baron Scarpia on May 22, 2019, 08:04:35 PM
Conversation with the girlfriend last night as I played Previn's recording of "Excursions":

"This is awful. What is this?"

"American piano music."

"It's terrible. Who is it by?"

"Samuel Barber."

"Okay, for future reference, I hate everything by Barber."

"I think you'll like the violin concerto if we ever see it live."

"...uhhhh... well, just so you know, you can't play this CD when I'm in the house."

 ;D

This is why headphones were invented. :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: springrite on May 22, 2019, 09:15:18 PM
Conversation with the girlfriend last night as I played Previn's recording of "Excursions":

"This is awful. What is this?"

"American piano music."

"It's terrible. Who is it by?"

"Samuel Barber."

"Okay, for future reference, I hate everything by Barber."

"I think you'll like the violin concerto if we ever see it live."

"...uhhhh... well, just so you know, you can't play this CD when I'm in the house."

 ;D
When I wanted to dump a girlfriend but did not want to have the guilt of being the person to terminate the relationship, I'd play some music that she'd hate. It worked several times.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: SymphonicAddict on June 16, 2019, 11:12:42 AM
A cool photo of these composers:

(https://i.imgur.com/eAkDW3F.jpg)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on June 17, 2019, 12:02:36 AM
A cool photo of these composers:

(https://i.imgur.com/eAkDW3F.jpg)
Is that Menotti on the far right? If so I've recently been enjoying his 'Apocalypse'.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: SymphonicAddict on June 17, 2019, 09:49:06 AM
Is that Menotti on the far right? If so I've recently been enjoying his 'Apocalypse'.

Yes, he is. Apocalypse is the only work I know by him and I like it too.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen on June 17, 2019, 09:52:26 AM
Yes, he is. Apocalypse is the only work I know by him and I like it too.
Thanks Cesar.
 :)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vers la flamme on November 04, 2019, 03:26:19 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?
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image 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
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vers la flamme 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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: André 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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: aligreto on September 11, 2021, 04:27:06 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/515lj46DgqL._SY355_.jpg)


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!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Madiel 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!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: aligreto on September 18, 2021, 05:08:23 AM
Barber: Cello Concerto [Gastinel/Brown]


(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/pw0AAOSwmXJf44yX/s-l500.jpg)


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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: aligreto 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!
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: aligreto on September 26, 2021, 04:24:21 AM
Barber: Summer Music Op. 31


(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/hD0AAOSwNhRg9wT-/s-l500.jpg)


Very pleasant, atmospheric and evocative pastoral music.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: aligreto 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:


(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/mxoAAOSwyEJe-xHc/s-l1600.jpg)


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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen 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:
(http://)
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: aligreto 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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: Madiel 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:


(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/mxoAAOSwyEJe-xHc/s-l1600.jpg)


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.
Title: Re: The Barber Chair
Post by: vandermolen 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.
(http://)