American Classics - Barber: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Alsop

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Naxos launches its Samuel Barber orchestral music series with this very impressive recording, noteworthy both for its inclusion of the rarely heard Second Symphony, as well as for the exciting prospect of a long-term artistic partnership between Naxos and the highly talented conductor Marin Alsop. The disc-opening performance of The School for Scandal Overture is distinctive: gentler than usual, a shade on the slow side, full of exquisite wind detail, and with a particularly expressive second subject. If she misses some of the music's wit and malice, Alsop certainly presents the piece as a much more mature, sophisticated creation than we've come to expect.

The comparative mellowness of the opening item gives absolutely no hint of the blazing tension that Alsop brings to everything else on the program. The First Symphony's 21-minute span seems over in a flash; the work has seldom sounded so grippingly intense and tightly focused. It may be that David Zinman on Argo offers more polish, but Alsop's emotionally expansive, let-it-all-hang-out excitement brings an unrivalled authority to this still comparatively neglected work. The way she builds the climax of the slow section following the scherzo alone is worth the price of this disc. Clearly Alsop has a keen grasp of Barber's idiom. The First Essay for Orchestra brings thrills of its own: its opening really broods, while the swift central development section passes by like a ghostly wind: superb.

Finally, Alsop offers what is clearly the finest-ever performance of the much maligned Second Symphony. The complete piece (its outer movements were suppressed by Barber) has received two previous recordings, neither of which compares in interpretive and technical excellence with Alsop's achievement here. Barber's dissatisfaction with the work is difficult to credit: it may be that the thematic material of the finale is not quite distinctive, but the dynamism of this performance silences any doubts on that score. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra plays with passion, and if it doesn't offer the same level of finish as Zinman's Baltimore players in the same music, it hardly matters. This is an outstanding disc for fans of Barber's music, and one of the finest releases to date in Naxos' American Classics series.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: 8559024


  • UPC: 636943902424


  • Label: Naxos


  • Composer: Samuel Barber


  • Conductor: Marin Alsop


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Royal Scottish National Orchestra



Works:


  1. The School for Scandal Overture, Op. 5

    Composer: Samuel Barber

    Ensemble: Royal Scottish National Orchestra

    Conductor: Marin Alsop


  2. Symphony no 1, Op. 9

    Composer: Samuel Barber

    Ensemble: Royal Scottish National Orchestra

    Conductor: Marin Alsop


  3. Essay for Orchestra no 1, Op. 12

    Composer: Samuel Barber

    Ensemble: Royal Scottish National Orchestra

    Conductor: Marin Alsop


  4. Symphony no 2, Op. 19

    Composer: Samuel Barber

    Ensemble: Royal Scottish National Orchestra

    Conductor: Marin Alsop