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Barber: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2: The School for Scandal Overture, Adagio for Strings CD

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00000DBQY
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,495 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9a366b40) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ae485a0) out of 5 stars Barber, a great American Romantic 12 April 2000
By Daniele - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This cd has been , to me , a great introduction to the sound-world of this marvelous and misunderstood American composer. I say misunderstood because when I took info on him from some music books, I noticed a certain tendency to treat him like a second-rate Rachmaninov or a one-work composer (Adagio for strings). Only lately a set of fine recordings from A-list artists (Slatkin,Jarvi, Shaham/Previn)began to show Barber's richness of inspiration. The problem is (in my opinion) that he was a composer concerned about lyricism and melody in a time when those things were not (unfortunately) "in fashion" anymore. This excellently selected cd gives a comprehensive idea about what Barber's music is all about : perfectly crafted, utterly refined music, imbued with a sort of dignified melancholy that never (if correctly performed) falls into self-indulgence. Maybe he was not a colossus, but it's profoundly humane, emotionally wide-ranging music. Still, it's not weak stuff, because his music occasionally shows unexpected, "Stravinskian" astringencies ("Capricorn "concerto"). Jarvi's performances did not receive rave reviews from the critics, but, if I agree about a slight lack of excitement (after this I bought Slatkin), I think that there's nothing really wrong here : the forever wonderful Adagio is hushed and not rushed, "The school for scandal" is appropriately sparkling and the symphonies really shine in their melodic richness. The 2nd is the best performance and (for me) the best piece.It's a rarely heard work because Barber withdrew it, and only recently the score reappeared. It's a measure of Barber's insecureness that he wanted to destroy such a magnificent work : just try the beginning of the last mov., it's an amazing, thrusting "fugato" ! A definite plus of the cd is the Detroit Symphony which, as splendidly recorded by Chandos, provides a rich , warmily glowing sound. Then, if you want more Barber, I also recommend Slatkin (Rca and Emi) which has greater focus and concentration in the 1st symphony and is splendid in the Essays for orchestra(no 2nd symphony from him, though!). In any case this one is not going to short-change you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ae486f0) out of 5 stars Barber And The Romantic Side Of American Music 17 May 2005
By Erik North - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If Aaron Copland embodied the America of small towns, wide open spaces, and the can-do spirit, Samuel Barber embodied its more Romantic side--not so much in terms of Romantic love, but in the scope of the music he created. This recording here of four of Barber's works clearly shows him to be our nation's finest exponent of 20th century Romantic American music.

The one-movement Symphony No. 1 was a work championed extensively by conductors like Artur Rodzinski and Bruno Walter after its 1936 premiere, while the Second Symphony, which he composed in 1942, was a work the composer was so critical of that he ordered the work removed twenty years later; it would not be heard in concert halls until a few years after his death in 1981. Both works are full of inspired orchestration, very austere, and still relatively obscure surprisingly enough, despite the many recordings out there. In a lighter vein is Barber's concert overture inspired by Richard Sheridan's 1777 play "The School For Scandal." Beginning with an orchestral flash that for a moment has "Flying Dutchman" overtones, the work then proceeds through brilliant orchestral colourings.

Then, there is the much-beloved "Adagio For Strings", which the composer took from his 1937 String Quartet No. 1 and which became one of the first American works ever heard at the world-famous Salzburg Festival. Setting aside the fact that it has been used in films like THE ELEPHANT MAN and, especially, PLATOON, the Adagio is often heard during times of deep mourning, first during Roosevelt's funeral in 1945 and then in 2001 for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Even today, nearly seven decades after it was first heard, it is one of those pieces that readily identifies our nation in musical terms.

All four works are superbly performed by the Detroit Symphony under Neeme Jarvi, who served as its music director from 1990 to 2004. Though born in Estonia, during his tenure in the Motor City, Jarvi has shown a great appreciation for the music of America, both well-known and obscure, and his abilities have kept up the traditions set down in Detroit by his predecessors Paul Paray and Antal Dorati. The two Barber symphonies and the overture are perfomed very dynamically by the orchestra, while the orchestra's full string section gives the Adagio the incredibly poignancy it embodies.

A great recording all around, definitely one to own.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9af8742c) out of 5 stars Some of Barber's most winning music, but Jarvi is too literal and square 11 April 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Neeme Jarvi's collection of major orchestral works by Barber closely matches a Naxos release with Marin Alsop. The selections are quintessential Barber in their romantic lushness, and they recall a time when, between the two world wars, when American music was optimistic and "democratic," in that serious composer wrote in easy harmonies and popular style. The only difference between alsop and Jarvi's programs is that he includes the Adagio for Strings in place of her First Essay for Orchestra. So far as interpretations go, neither is ideal. I called Alsop's interpretations "Pleasant," and the same hold true here. This music needs a dedicated advocate like Thomas Schippers, who miscellany of Barber on Sony holds up decades after it first appeared.

comparing Jarvi with his rival, there are some incidental differences. Jarvi wins on sound with warm, full sonics from Chandos, although some inner detail has been lost in the lush sound picture. The strings of the Detroit Sym. stand above those of Alsop's Royal Scottish orchestra as well. If those things matter to you, Jarvi's only drawback is the higher price of this CD. In hindsight, I'm embarrassed that I gave Alsop's literal, foursquare interpretations four stars when this lovely music deserves so much better. I won't make the same mistake twice, so be tolerant of an odd outcome: the better CD is getting one less star. Besides the classic Schippers, you might seek out David Zinman's Barber collection on Argo, now deleted, where some of the readings are a notch more energetic. that can't be said of Leonard Slatkin's Barber miscellany on EMI, which is dullsville.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ae488ac) out of 5 stars must have for collectors of Barber's works 2 April 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This music has all the elements of that great American Symphonic period highlighted by Barber and Copland. The performance is perfect. The disc is a must have for collectors of Barber's works.
HASH(0x9ae48ac8) out of 5 stars A fine recording just lacking... 14 Jun. 2016
By Thomas Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My introduction to Barber's 2nd Symphony was the late Andrew Schenck's recording on the budget label Stradivari Classics back in the late 80s (orchestral parts had been found in a warehouse and published in 1984). Schenck was probably the finest Barber conductor after Schippers (and before Slatkin). His performances were excellent and are still worth seeking out. (David Measham also made a fine recording of Night Flight, the surviving movement that Barber allowed to be published).

Jarvi and the DSO make a convincing case for both symphonies especially the 2nd. Modern digital recording techniques and the superlative DSO reveal details of the 2nd I had not heard before. But at the end of the day, I have to recommend Marin Alsop's recording on Naxos for a modern, impressive digital performance (for collectors, there is an ancient performance of the symphony with Barber conducting). I can't give the CD five stars because Jarvi is pretty low-engery with the School for Scandal, one of the weakest I've ever heard. And, lord, did we really need another Adagio for Strings (I bet Barber - except for the money - wished he had never written that!).
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