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Barber: Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto

Samuel Barber , Leonard Slatkin , Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra , John Browning Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 13 Songs, 1991 $9.99  
Audio CD, 1991 --  

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Symphony No. 1, Op. 9/Allegro ma non troppoLeonard Slatkin 7:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Symphony No. 1, Op. 9/Allegro moltoLeonard Slatkin 4:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Symphony No. 1, Op. 9/Andante tranquilloLeonard Slatkin 5:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Symphony No. 1, Op. 9/Con moto (Passacaglia)Leonard Slatkin 4:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Piano Concerto, Op. 38/Allegro appassionatoJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin14:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Piano Concerto, Op. 38/Canzone: ModeratoJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 7:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Piano Concerto, Op. 38/Allegro moltoJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 6:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Souvenirs, Op. 28 (For Piano Four-Hands)/WaltzJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 4:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Souvenirs, Op. 28 (For Piano Four-Hands)/SchottischeJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 2:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Souvenirs, Op. 28 (For Piano Four-Hands)/Pas de deuxJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 4:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Souvenirs, Op. 28 (For Piano Four-Hands)/Two-StepJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 1:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. Souvenirs, Op. 28 (For Piano Four-Hands)/Hesitation-TangoJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 4:05$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen13. Souvenirs, Op. 28 (For Piano Four-Hands)/GalopJohn Browning;Leonard Slatkin 2:16$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: John Browning
  • Orchestra: Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Leonard Slatkin
  • Composer: Samuel Barber
  • Audio CD (May 10, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA / BMG
  • ASIN: B000003F3J
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,561 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Both major works on this release are rarely performed and rarely recorded--but they shouldn't be. The First Symphony can stand right beside Aaron Copland's Third Symphony and Roy Harris's Third Symphony. In fact, Barber's has more complications than either of the other works, but is structurally and tonally their equal. The Piano Concerto was itself premiered by John Browning, who had considerable input on the work, along with a last-minute suggestion in the final movement from the great Vladimir Horowitz that allowed a human being to actually play it. It's no cakewalk and should have more currency than it does. --Paul Cook

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly beautiful symphony, performance matches! January 27, 2000
Format:Audio CD
The Piano Concerto is well done, with excellent contributions from all parties. If you are expecting something like Barber's Violin Concerto played on the piano, you will be disappointed; however, if you approach the work without any preconceptions, you stand to be greatly rewarded.
Souvenirs isn't my favorite Barber, but it is well played by Browning and Slatkin at the keyboard.
However, the disc offers quite a find to me, and that is the performance of the symphony. Barber's composition is thrilling and gripping in both I and II, while III and IV (note that it is a one mov't work divided into four parts)have Barber's trademarks of lyricism and power. I and II are appropriately executed by the performers, while III is especially beautiful, with a wonderful solo oboe and a hushed string accompaniment reminiscient of Dvorak's Sym. 9, mov't II (also the same vein as the similarly-scored slow mov't of Barber's Violin Concerto? Same idea!), with an overwhelming transition to IV, a Passacaglia that makes you believe in the form. Slatkin and St. Louis leave simple professionalism behind to reach a transcendence in playing and interpretation of this work that is stunning. The contribution of the solo oboe in III is remarkable, as is the responsiveness of each player/section to the music, playing like chamber musicians. The transition to III is not only emotionally overwhelming, but packed with goosebumps and a tear. Their performance of IV convinces you that the tear was not shed in vain, and the more should be coming! (Okay, maybe that's over the top, but this music and performance really move me!). While charges of pedestrian interpretation and matter-of-fact, too brisk tempi can be sometimes levelled against Slatkin, here is hardly the case.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Browning's Barber Concerto is First Rate! March 27, 2001
Format:Audio CD
To have John Browning's interpretation (the concerto was written for him) on digital format is a priceless treasure. Samuel Barber was a devoted fan of Browning, and it would seem that Browning had an incomprehensible understanding of Barber's music. This collaberation makes for an exciting recording of an incredibly complex piece of music! The performance of the Symphony is straightforward and uncomplicated, though it lacks the luster of the Concerto performance. Overall, 5 stars!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barber enthusiasts, here you go. December 3, 1999
Format:Audio CD
John Browning, for whom the concerto was written brings Barber's imprimatur to this recording, along with great energy and sensitivity. The last two movements are ethereal and exhilirating, respectively. This piece displays some of the thorny modernity for which Barber is not so well known. The Symphony, an earlier composition, is also performed with great power by the orchestra under Slatkin's direction. If Brahms can be seen as the heir to Beethoven, combining Romantic sentiment with classical rigor, Barber picks up this thread in this symphony, a one movement (with four sections) piece built with great economy around a single theme. The finale, a passcaglia, recalls Brahms' fourth symphony. The slow movement is trademark Barber lyricism, while the scherzo is a bit spikier and quite exciting. Slatkin is becoming a premiere interpreter of American music and the more I hear, the more I'm impressed with him. For anyone who wants to get a little more in-depth than the Adagio and the Violin concerto, this is an excellent place to start.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable for Barber devotees June 13, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Barber's Symphony No. 1 is an early yet mature work of unrelenting seriousness, melodic richness and genuine power. Though not entirely free of cliche, this is a very heart-felt and satisfying 21-minute work, in four loosely connected movements.
The Piano Concerto strikes me as being less inspired, more of a work to admire than to love. Certainly Barber doesn't lavish the same lyrical affection on the piano that he did on the violin or the cello in his respective concerti for those instruments; by design, the piano concerto does not exploit the piano as a vehicle for showy display. For me, the angular motif introduced by the piano at the beginning of the first movement wears out its welcome, so often it is repeated. The second movement is more lyrical, more like the Barber of "Adagio for Strings" vintage. The third movement is high-energy and percussive with a skillful interplay between soloist and orchestra.
The encore is Souvenirs, an incidental work of "pure nostalgia" for piano duet. Slatkin joins Browning at the piano here and they make the music sound completely improvisatory, like they're making it up as they go along. It's a delightfully lightweight but inventively melodic suite.
All in all, this is a disc that Barber enthusiasts will want. With good sound and performances, it can certainly be recommended to a broader range of collectors as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Samuel Barber is regarded by the public at large as one of America's greatest 20th century composers because of one single composition - the timeless Adagio for Strings. Yet for music lovers, we know that his talent doesn't end there. The present album is a reminder of his ability to write enduring works longer that 8 or 9 minutes. Barber knew, even as a child, that his destiny was musical composition, and at 9 years of age, he wrote a letter to his mother and told her so! He was one of the first students to enroll in Philadelphia's newly-formed Curtis Institute of Music. This RCA disc features two of his large-scale works, Symphony No. 1 and his Piano Concert, as well as Souvenirs for four hands. Performing is Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra with John Browning, pianist. The recording was made in 1990.

Barber's First Symphony is a remarkably accessible work written in 1936 when Barber was 26. In Program Notes, Barber describes the symphony in this way: "The form of my Symphony in One Movement is a synthetic treatment of the four-movement classical symphony. It is based on three themes of the initial Allegro non troppo, which retain throughout the work their fundamental character. The Allegro ma non troppo opens with the usual exposition of a main theme, a more lyrical second theme, and a closing theme. After a brief development of the three themes, instead of the customary recapitulation, the first theme in diminution forms the basis of a scherzo section (vivace). The second theme (oboe over muted strings) then appears in augmentation, in an extended Andante tranquillo. An intense crescendo introduces the finale, which is a short passacaglia based on the first theme...
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