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Barber: The Songs / Studer, Hampson, Browning, Emerson Quartet

Barber / Studer / Hampson / Emreson String Quartet
Release Date: 10/12/2004 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000338002   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas HampsonJohn BrowningCheryl Studer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 50 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The word 'complete' appears on the booklet accompanying this set, and although it's not literally true (there are many unpublished Barber songs that we must hope to hear some day) it is the right word to have chosen. Firstly, because the set contains, in addition to all the published songs, ten that have been unknown until now, and all are real discoveries, worthy of a place not only in this collection but in widespread performance: singers hunting for rewarding repertory will be unable to resist such an immaculately simple, memorable melody as Oh that so sweet imprisonment, or the insidiously catchy Beggar's song, with its fanfare-like accompaniment (a sure-fire encore piece if ever I heard one). Several of the other newly revealed songs Read more have that Barber hallmark, the ability to build considerable eloquence from simple gesture, and all of them show his discriminating flair for choosing texts that are apt for setting and for singing.

Secondly, the set provides a compelling argument for regarding Barber's songs as his art at its most complete. There's hardly a weak song in the collection, and though for a really 'complete Barber' we should ideally need the orchestral songs and scenas as well, Dover Beach (ideally sung and played) is here to represent them. And lastly these are wonderfully 'complete' performances: Hampson especially brings to this music a remarkable range of expression and colour, a subtle use of words and a conviction that not a few of these songs are masterpieces. Studer has a slightly cooler approach, projects her words with rather less character, but often provides the vocal glamour, the ability to sketch long curves and floated high notes, that Barber (singer himself and connoisseur of singing) so often demanded. And John Browning, to whose virtuosity Barber tailored his Piano Concerto, sounds not only like a man who has yearned to accompany these singers in these songs for a long while, but like a considerable accompanist indeed, matching Hampson's dynamic range and expressive flexibility and Studer's seamless line with resourceful sympathy.

Sung in chronological order these songs are almost an autobiography. We can hear Barber challenging his precocious talent and fluent melodic gift with more and more demanding texts. As early as Op. 2, he rounds out two delightful songs from his teens with the wrenching pathos of ''Bessie Bobtail'' (a spine-tingling performance by Hampson, never a hint of exaggeration in its huge spectrum of colour and dynamic, the clarity of his words never distorting the line). He soon finds an affinity with James Joyce, choosing not only lyrics that Joyce (a singer himself) conceived with music in mind, but finding perfect solutions to such awkward texts as Nuvoletta (sheer genius to set it as a waltz-song with overtones of Gounod) and ''A solitary hotel'' (from Despite and Still, almost spoken recitatives alternating with an insinuating slow tango). He becomes a composer of delicately inflected chansons when writing the Melodies passageres for Bernac and Poulenc (but how characteristic that he should have chosen rather recondite words for the purpose: French poems by Rilke), finds a world of humour, wonder and piercing vision in the translated Irish texts of the Hermit Songs and enjoys challenging not only himself but Fischer-Dieskau (who commissioned Op. 45) with allusive, surreal images. Autobiography is at its most direct in Despite and Still, the once golden boy of American music now well into middle-age, suffering public and personal rejection, writing of his loneliness and despair with a poignancy all the more moving for his by now customary restraint. Hampson realizes how painfully, rawly personal they are, and sings them almost throughout with a comparable and most moving intimacy.

Yes, I could have done with a little more wit from Studer in Nuvoletta, lovely though her line and shading are, and in ''The Monk and his Cat'' (from Hermit Songs), but her touching simplicity elsewhere makes up for a lot. Otherwise no criticisms at all. This is both the most valuable and the most enjoyable recorded song recital that I have heard for a very long while, and the recorded sound is flawless.

-- Michael Oliver, Gramophone [5/1994]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Serenader by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: This song was previously unpublished. 
2.
Dover Beach, Op. 3 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Thomas Hampson ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; USA 
Length: 8 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
Songs (2), Op. 18: no 1, The Queen's Face on a Summery Coin by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
Songs (2), Op. 18: no 2, Monks and Raisins by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: English 
5.
Hermit Songs, Op. 29 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Cheryl Studer (Soprano), John Browning (Piano), Cheryl Studer ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952-1953; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1991/09/1992 
Venue:  Abersee, St. Konrad Church / Wein, Musik 
Length: 16 Minutes 28 Secs. 
6.
Mélodies passagčres, Op. 27 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950-1951; USA 
7.
Songs (3), Op. 2 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Cheryl Studer (), Thomas Hampson (), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927-1934; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1991/09/1992 
Venue:  Abersee, St. Konrad Church / Wein, Musik 
Length: 5 Minutes 0 Secs. 
8.
Songs (3), Op. 10 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1991/09/1992 
Venue:  Abersee, St. Konrad Church / Wein, Musik 
Length: 9 Minutes 24 Secs. 
9.
Songs (4), Op. 13 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Cheryl Studer (), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1940; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1991/09/1992 
Venue:  Abersee, St. Konrad Church / Wein, Musik 
Length: 9 Minutes 28 Secs. 
10.
Despite and Still, Op. 41 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Thomas Hampson ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968-1969; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1991/09/1992 
Venue:  Abersee, St. Konrad Church / Wein, Musik 
Length: 10 Minutes 28 Secs. 
11.
Songs (3), Op. 45 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Thomas Hampson ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/1991/09/1992 
Venue:  Abersee, St. Konrad Church / Wein, Musik 
Length: 9 Minutes 1 Secs. 
12.
A Slumber Song of the Madonna by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Cheryl Studer (Soprano), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: English 
13.
There's Nae Lark by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: English 
14.
Love at the Door by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: English 
15.
Serenader by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 
16.
Love's Caution by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: English 
17.
Night Wanderers by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: English 
18.
Of That So Sweet Imprisonment by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Cheryl Studer (Soprano), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: English 
19.
Strings in the Earth and Air by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: English 
20.
Beggar's Song by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: English 
21.
In the Dark Pinewood by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), John Browning (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
22.
Dover Beach, Op. 3 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; USA 
Length: 8 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: English 
23.
Nuvoletta, Op. 25 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: English 
24.
Hermit Songs, Op. 29 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952-1953; USA 
25.
Mélodies passagčres, Op. 27 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  John Browning (Piano), Thomas Hampson (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950-1951; USA 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Wonderful Barber August 9, 2012 By Kathy R. (Zachary, LA) See All My Reviews "This recording brought back so many good memories of when I was first introduced to Barber. Since I am a romantic at heart it is truly inspiring to listen to this collection." Report Abuse
 Great collection August 1, 2012 By Richard K. (Seattle, WA) See All My Reviews "I have been enjoying this collection immensely. I was not familiar with any of this music prior to getting this set. What a bargain, too!" Report Abuse
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