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  • Barber: Prayers of Kierkegaard / V. Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem / Bartok: Cantata Profana
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Barber: Prayers of Kierkegaard / V. Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem / Bartok: Cantata Profana


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Audio CD, March 24, 1998
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Barber: Prayers of Kierkegaard / V. Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem / Bartok: Cantata Profana + Dvorak: Stabat Mater
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Product Details

  • Performer: Atlanta Symphony Chorus
  • Orchestra: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Robert Shaw
  • Composer: Samuel Barber, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Bela Bartok
  • Audio CD (March 24, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B0000064U9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,552 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. O Thou Who Art Unchangeable
2. Lord Jesus Christ, Who Suffered All Life Long
3. Father In Heaven, Well We Know That It Is Thou
4. Father In Heaven! Hold Not Our Sins Up Against Us
5. Part I - Nathan Gunn
6. Part II - Nathan Gunn
7. Part III - Nathan Gunn
8. I. Agnus Dei
9. II. Beat! Beat! Drums!
10. III. Reconciliation
11. IV. Dirge For Two Veterans
12. V. The Angel Of Death
13. VI. O Man Greatly Beloved

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

It's unclear why this program works so well, but it does. It may be because all three composers resolutely affirmed the virtues of tonality at a time when it was terribly out of fashion, though each did it in his own way. Barber was a genuine neo-Romantic before we had the term to describe him, so his heartfelt and emotional music was simply called "backward looking" while he was alive. Vaughan Williams and Bartók were both authorities on folk song who used the "uncouth vocal utterance of the people" to forge fresh and contemporary musical styles. Robert Shaw, one of the great choral music conductors of all time, plays all three works with a near ideal combination of clarity and intensity, and, of course, the chorus is sensational. --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
A nice addition to the choral/orchestral library.
Brett A. Kniess
Even in the discordance, the complexity of the music, and the melancholy tone of the song, it was absolutely moving and beautiful.
Kayla A. Evans
This is a clean recording with especially impressive singing.
Ed Uyeshima

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
In the final CD to be released before his death in 1999, Shaw finally got around to recording "Dona nobis pacem". The performance is essentially flawless, with soloists, chorus, and orchestra giving their all. Shaw brings out the emotions--both violent and tranquil--in a way unmatched by any other recording, except perhaps for Hickox. Were this the only work on the CD, it would still be worth full price.
Thankfully, Shaw gives us not one but two more works to fill the CD--Bartók's "Cantata profana" and Barber's "Prayers of Kierkegaard". Both works, especially the latter, receive masterful performances; Shaw's recording is much more lyrical than the other available version (Schenck with the Chicago SO), especially in the soprano solo ("Lord Jesus Christ").
All in all, this disk, which won three Grammys, is a must-have.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brett A. Kniess on December 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
A disk of lesser-known choral/orchestral works by great masters of composition are always a welcome addition, and this CD doesn't fail, perhaps giving these works new life and hopefully a new future of performances.

The Danish-born theologian Soren Kierkegaard and his prayers from various writings are the subject of Samuel Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard. The prayers are very personal, having to do with redemption and God's love, a keen insight to existentialism, and Barber's music expresses it well. While a unified whole, the 15+ minute work is divided into four separate prayers, each a style and a setting different from one another. Barber lets the listener know this is religious music by setting the opening text in chanting men's voices in an old church mode. But when the orchestra comes in, a 20th century declamatory statement changes the mood. Barber again looks to the past with simple contrapuntal choral writings. The second prayer is a supplicatory soprano solo sung by Carmen Pelton. A 20th century chanting chorus, reminiscent of thick Russian orthodox music opens the third prayer. Barber again brings back contrapuntalism and a great dissonant melody eventually dividing into two choruses. The final prayer begins with a wild instrumental modal dance section, and the end brings back the simple chant-like feel of the beginning, and the final, modern chorale ending with a positive outlook. Scored for orchestra, soprano, alto, and tenor soloists, and chorus, Barber's unique, and often intimate compositional styles, shine through here. The motives used throughout are enjoyable, the music creates great drama, and the work is quite inspired. It is very much spiritual and artistically pleasing.

Bartok's Cantata Profana is a different matter.
Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 25, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Three composers, who don't seem to have a lot in common, are on display here, and yet the cumulative effect is quite stirring thanks to the late Robert Shaw, as he masterfully leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in this splendid 1998 recording. Samuel Barber's "Prayers of Kierkegaard" is a powerful chorale work that is almost cinematic in its dramatic effect. Commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation during WWII, the composer did not complete the work until 1954. The piece is in the form of a single-movement cantata, of four prayers by the Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard. Soprano Carmen Pelton has a lovely solo on "Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered all life long" and joins the chorus for the haunting "Father in Heaven, well we know that it is Thou".

Béla Bartók's "Cantata profana" ("The Nine Enchanted Songs") possesses strong rhythmic vitality in this arrangement, especially the harp glissandos implying supernatural forces at work, and is given a fine reading by tenor Richard Clement and baritone Nathan Gunn providing superb vocal turns as son and father, respectively, in the middle section. The most affecting set is the last, Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Dona nobis pacem", which was composed in the mid-1930's as a warning of the threat of war in Europe. His sources were diverse - the poetry of Walt Whitman, the Bible, the Latin Mass, and from a speech made in the British House of Commons during the Crimean War in the 1850s by John Bright - but the sound is consistently mesmerizing. Pelton particularly shines on "Agnus dei", and the concluding "O man greatly beloved" is awe-inspiring. However, the most impressive passage is the "Dirge for Two Veterans", which effortlessly goes from patriotic wartime fervor to mournful prayer. This is a clean recording with especially impressive singing.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By James Osborn on April 13, 1999
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought the CD because our local chorus was singing Vaughan Williams. The recording is spectacular. The recording is so clear that it's easy to pick out the four voices for practice. But especially given the current events in the Balkans, this piece gives a listener chills, for it clearly exposes the consequences of war while offering the hope for peace masterminded by the Almighty.
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I had never heard of Prayers of Kierkegaard set to music, so this was a surprise. Even in the discordance, the complexity of the music, and the melancholy tone of the song, it was absolutely moving and beautiful. SInging it with our community choir made it even more special. This recording with full orchestration is wonderful.
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