Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 16 April 2007
This review is from: Samuel Barber: Orchestral Works, Vol.2 (Audio CD)
Barber's cello concerto of 1945 remains one of the finest composed for the instrument of the last century, and its popularity continues to grow after initial neglect. The reason for its neglect is probably its extreme difficulty, but with the current generation of super-virtuosos the music is slowly taking its rightful place in the repertory. And what music it is! Considered by Barber and many music critics as one of his most successful scores, the cello concerto contains some of Barber's most beautiful and invigorating writing - all the hallmarks of Barber's style are here: the rich tonal harmony, the rhythmic complexity, the taughtness of architectural structure and the poignent, searching lyricism. The cello sings consistently high above the orchestra with aching passion. Anyone who has any liking for 20th century music should hear this piece. It is exactly between the ravishing beauty of the violin concerto and the powerful drive of the piano concerto.

As to the recording, this one is without a doubt the finest on record. The brilliant young Canadian cellist Wendy Warner has played this piece more than just about anyone, and she understands its dark lyricism and passionate tone better than any of her more famous rivals. This is the first 'great' recording of this work, though Yo-Yo Ma, Gastinel and Nelsova are worth hearing for various reasons. The recordings by Garbousova, Wallfisch, Vogler, Rose, Tobias and Kirschbaum are all servicable, and some are certainly better than others, but none impressed me as much as the Warner. The support that Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is absolutely world class and the recording is astonishingly clear.

The Medea Ballet Suite of 1947 is another of Barber's strongest works and also won great critical acclaim, notably from the notoriously ascerbic Virgil Thomson, who said of it (in his typically guarded style): 'it brings its author suspiciously close to the clear status of a master'. It is a powerful and moving work, even as pure concert music - it juxtaposes harshly dissonant 'modern' harmoy with Barber's trademark lyricism - it is reminiscent of Stravinsky's own early Ballet music, especially the Firebird. It is good to have the whole suite presented here rather than the more commonly presented shorter movement which Barber crafted out of the last three movements of the suite. There is much beautiful woodwind writing that is lost in the cut down version. Again Alsop and the Royal Scottish give a passionate and involving reading that provides great advocacy for this also underplayed work.

The final piece on the CD is the famous Adagio for Strings, which is an arrangement of the slow movement of the string quartet. This is so famous that it is barely worth commenting on, but Alsop gives a flowing, but not fast, reading that is quite welcome after the indulgences of many versions. Not the best recording of this popular classic, but a very fine reading nonetheless.

All in all a superb CD, and at budget price, anyone who has any interest in 20th century music would be a fool to miss it. Another winner from Naxos!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]