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  • Music of Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings; Orchestral Music
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Music of Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings; Orchestral Music

21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Leonard Slatkin
  • Composer: Samuel Barber
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Digital
  • ASIN: B000002RQE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,191 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Bass Barreltone on June 1, 2000
Format: Audio CD
These are some of Barber's most memorable works, and this remains the best recording I have heard of the "Adagio" and the "Dance of Vengeance."
First, then, the Essays, which I have not heard before. They are full of wonderful, powerful surprises. The first two were completed in 1938 and 1942, and they bear much similarity to his other earlier works, noticeably the Adagio (the repeated opening "crushed" chord and resolution). They bear the mark of a brilliant, if unfocused young composer (he was 28 and 32, respectively): a musical idea is presented, is not much developed, and soon gives way, with little transition, to a new idea. Each idea is fresh, and vibrant-- I can sense Barber writing as quickly as he can, to get each idea onto the page before he tires of it.
Barber was, for a long time, a Romantic composer stuck in the twentieth century. It seems to have been a mark of pride for him to stick with the older style, and yet at times he seems uncomfortable with it. Though he was born too late (as it seems he thought), he is occasionally tempted to use the newer, emancipated dissonances of the modern era. In his Romantic music, this sounds out of place.
However, by the time of the Third Essay, completed in 1978 (forty years later!), he had discovered his own sound-- one that did not rely so heavily on European Romanticism. It was at this point that he asserted his birthright as a twentieth-century American: rhythm. He finally allowed himself to be influenced by the likes of Stravinsky and Bartok, and his music became radically different.
The contrast cannot be heard with more clarity than on this recording.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Nylund on December 22, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Samuel Barber's most popular orchestral works have seldom been as well-performed as they were by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin. This wonderful EMI recording is a lasting testament to the great things that Slatkin accomplished during his long tenure in St. Louis.
The overture to "The School for Scandal" was an early triumph for Samuel Barber and it was clearly an exciting, dramatic, and sometimes lyrical work. Slatkin is very sensitive and understanding of this music and was able to lead the St. Louis musicians in one of the best performances of this popular work.
Perhaps Barber's best-known work is the "Adagio for Strings," originally part of a string quartet. It bears the distinction of having a world premiere under the legendary Arturo Toscanini. It's interesting to note that Barber had gone to Italy one summer and managed to meet the Maestro, who was on his own summer vacation. Toscanini was impressed with the aspiring, young composer and was soon even more impressed with the "Adagio for Strings." Toscanini chose to premiere the "Adagio" with the NBC Symphony on a broadcast performance. It is one of the most deeply moving compositions by any American composer. I've seldom heard such a powerful performance as this one by Slatkin and the St. Louis orchestra.
Toscanini also premiered the first of Barber's "Essays for Orchestra." Interestingly, however, the first recording of this energetic, colorfully orchestrated work was by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in a 12-inch 78-rpm RCA Victor Red Seal recording. Slatkin not only conducted this work but the two essays which followed, the third of which is one of Barber's later works (with rather spectacular, imaginative writing for percussion).
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Gregory M. Zinkl on January 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Slatkin has recorded Barber's Adagio at least thrice: once each on Telarc (too fast), RCA (not as moving) and here for EMI. EMI is the one to have. Everything just fell into place.
But then there's the rest of the disc. School of Scandal is scintillating and haunting at the same time! The Essays are great music that you should hear, especially performed as well as it is on this recording. And so it goes...
The playing is exemplary, as is the engineering. I love this disc.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By T. Bradley on March 20, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Barber's music is presented here by Slatkin in one of the most outstanding recordings made in the 1980s. I firmly believe this is a difinitive Barber recording. Every piece has the passion, rhythm, and affect to the listener Barber intended. The engineering is superb and the St. Louis Symphony is certainly in its prime. Get this CD - even if only for "Adagio." The other tunes on here are amazing as well...Medea is fabulous, as is his 2nd essay, a wonderful piece in its heroic subtlety - Slatkin conveys magnificent interpretations - subtle but effective in the presentation of Barber's music. The power is overwhelming, the warmth and feeling of the recording is simply awesome, and the technicality and virtuosic performance is dazzling. Anyone will enjoy it - buy it, no kidding.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Heinen on October 30, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Much better than the Zinman disk in my view. Buy it for the Adagio. Love it for all of the pieces. Gorgeous!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Freeman on May 17, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I remember exactly where I was sitting in the Music Hall when I first heard this piece of music played by our symphony. I thought this is surely as close as I will ever get to heaven before I die. I remember crying because of the beauty of this piece, and quickly became a fan and listener of Barber's music. I am a singer and for my graduate recital I sang "Knoxville, Summer of 1915". I loved it as well.
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