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Barber: Complete Works For Solo Piano / Eric Parkin

Release Date: 07/26/1994 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 9177   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Samuel Barber
Performer:  Eric Parkin
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

We need to be clear what this CD contains: this is not quite the Complete Works for Solo Piano, as claimed in the title, nor is it ''the entire output for solo piano, save for a single childhood essay'' as stated in the booklet. (For detailed information see Barbara B. Heyman's admirable study, Samuel Barber: the Composer and his Music; Oxford University Press: 1992). According to Heyman, this is the complete published piano music, apart from Three Sketches (1923–24), and there are quite a lot of unpublished pieces.

None of this matters when the playing is as polished and sympathetic as Parkin's. He responds wonderfully to the nostalgic melancholia of Barber. The ballet score, Souvenirs, is available on CD in the orchestral
Read more and piano-duet versions, but this solo piano treatment is just as engaging. It has the same retrospective glances as the Valses Bourgeoises of another stylist, Lord Berners. Parkin knows exactly how to present this side of Barber and his treatment of the Four Excursions based on different popular idioms is equally convincing. (He's recorded these before: for Preamble, 1/89). A performer as well versed as Parkin in British post-romantics such as Ireland and Bax finds home ground again in Barber's Nocturne and the late Ballade written for the Van Cliburn Foundation.

Many have assumed that Barber's classic, the Sonata, was written for Horowitz, who gave the premiere. I have done so in these columns and have been 'corrected' in a subsequent letter. Heyman concludes that although both Barber and Horowitz stated publicly that the Sonata was not written for Horowitz, evidence in correspondence ''strongly suggests that Barber was indeed writing the Sonata for Horowitz''. In this work Parkin is in competition with seven other recordings plus Horowitz himself, recorded in 1950. (SeeMay 1991 for my enthusiasm over Peter Lawson's excellent collection of American sonatas on Virgin Classics and March 1992 for comment on Joanna MacGregor.) Parkin treats the work lyrically and never forces us to regard the finale, especially, as a hard-hitting block-buster in the way that so many young pianists do. He is transparent in the scherzo (track 7); sings in the Adagio, and the final fugue subject has exactly the catchy, swinging quality that many players miss. This is a winning anthology of a major American romantic.

-- Peter Dickinson, Gramophone [10/1993]
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Works on This Recording

Excursions (4) for Piano, Op. 20 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Eric Parkin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942-1944; USA 
Nocturne for Piano, Op. 33 "Homage to John Field" by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Eric Parkin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USA 
Sonata for Piano in E flat minor, Op. 26 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Eric Parkin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Ballade for Piano, Op. 46 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Eric Parkin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Souvenirs, Op. 28 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Eric Parkin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; USA 

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