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Adagio - Samuel Barber 100th Anniversary

Release Date: 02/23/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 87286  
Composer:  Samuel Barber
Performer:  Elmar OliveiraBarbara HendricksThomas AllenLeon McCawley,   ... 
Conductor:  Simon RattleLeonard SlatkinMichael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic OrchestraSt. Louis Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This commemorative set marks the centenary of Barber's birth and gives a rounded picture of Barber the composer, from his ever-popular Adagio to the evocative Dover Beach.

This 2CD commemorative set marks the centenary, in 2010, of Barber's birth and gives a fairly rounded picture of Barber the composer, including the ever-popular Adagio for Strings and other orchestral, chamber and song music. Samuel Barber came into the world on 9 March 1910 at West Chester, Pennsylvania. His father was a doctor, his mother a pianist and the Irish-American family into which he was born was comfortably off, educated and well-respected. His aunt was the distinguished contralto, Louise Homer, who sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New
Read more York, and her husband, Sidney Homer, was a well-known composer of American art songs. With such a background it is hardly surprising that Barber expressed an interest in becoming a composer himself and, at the age of seven, he wrote his first musical, followed by an opera at the age of 10. It was through his aunt that Barber developed a love of the voice and, when first taking up music studies at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, he chose to study voice. Barber himself had a very fine light baritone voice and made a recording of his own Dover Beach. It was whilst at the Curtis Institute that Barber met fellow-composer, Gian-Carlo Menotti. The two became firm friends as well as lifelong partners, only being separated by Barber's death, caused by cancer, in 1981.

The first disc starts with the Adagio for Strings in its orchestral guise; continues with the lively overture to The School for Scandal – written in 1931, which was Barber's first work for orchestra. This is followed by the 1939 Violin Concerto, with its exquisite slow movement – another early illustration of the composer's gift for melody – and then comes what is, perhaps, Barber's most 'American' piece, Knoxville: Summer 1915, a beautifully nostalgic work for soprano and orchestra. Then the first of the three fine Essays for Orchestra, written in 1937, 1942 and 1978 and, finally, the disc ends with a piece extracted from the 1946 ballet Medea.

The second CD is made up of some of Barber's better-known chamber music and songs. Dover Beach is an evocative setting of a poem by Matthew Arnold, written in 1931 for baritone and string quartet. Then two examples of Barber's piano music: the Excursions, Op.20, from 1942-44 and the Piano Sonata written in 1949. These are followed by one of the most charming of 20th century chamber works, the 1955 Summer Music for woodwind quintet. There follows a group of early songs, written between 1927-34. The last item on the disc is the String Quartet written in 1936, the slow movement of which Barber arranged for string orchestra two years later as the Adagio for Strings.
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Works on This Recording

Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Rome, Italy 
The School for Scandal Overture, Op. 5 by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1933; USA 
Concerto for Violin, Op. 14 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Elmar Oliveira (Violin)
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USA 
Knoxville, Summer of 1915, Op. 24 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Barbara Hendricks (Soprano)
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947-1950; USA 
Essay for Orchestra no 1, Op. 12 by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, Op. 23a by Samuel Barber
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USA 
Dover Beach, Op. 3 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Allen (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Endellion String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; USA 
Excursions (4) for Piano, Op. 20 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Leon McCawley (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942-1944; USA 
Sonata for Piano in E flat minor, Op. 26 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Leon McCawley (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; USA 
Summer Music, Op. 31 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Judith LeClair (Bassoon), Joseph Robinson (Oboe), Jeanne Baxtresser (Flute),
Stanley Drucker (Clarinet), Philip Myers (French Horn)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Songs (3), Op. 2 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Allen (Baritone), Roger Vignoles (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927-1934; USA 
Quartet for Strings in B minor, Op. 11 by Samuel Barber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Endellion String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Rome, Italy 

Sound Samples

Barber: Adagio for Strings
The School for Scandal Overture Op. 5
Violin Concerto Op. 14: I. Allegro
Violin Concerto Op. 14: II. Andante
Violin Concerto Op. 14: III. Presto in moto perpetuo
Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Essay for Orchestra No. 1 Op. 12
Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance Op. 23a: Medea's Dance of Vengeance
Dover Beach, Op.3
Sonata Op.26: I. Allegro energico
Sonata Op.26: II. Allegro vivace eleggero
Sonata Op.26: III. Adagio mesto
Sonata Op.26: IV. Fuga
Excursions Op. 20: I. Un poco allegro
Excursions Op. 20: II. In slow blues tempo
Excursions, Op. 20: III. Allegretto: Barber: Excursions, Op. 20: III. Allegretto
Excursions Op. 20: IV. Allegro molto
Summer Music Op. 31: Slow and indolent
Summer Music Op. 31: Faster -
Summer Music Op. 31: Lively, still faster
Summer Music Op. 31: With motion, as before -
Summer Music Op. 31: Joyous and flowing -
Summer Music Op. 31: Tempo I
3 Songs, Op.2: The daisies (James Stephens)
3 Songs, Op.2: With rue my heart is laden (A. E. Housman)
3 Songs, Op.2: Bessie Bobtail (James Stephens)
String Quartet, Op.11: I. Molto allegro e appassionato
String Quartet, Op.11: II. Adagio
String Quartet, Op.11: III. Molto adagio - Presto

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