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Comment: This is a good ex-library copy with a few of the usual library markings on the booklet/rear cover insert and a couple on top of the disc. The disc is near flawless and like new on the bottom. Aside from the library markings the booklet is clean and contains only minor edge imperefctions. The case is brand new.
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Knoxville Summer of 1915

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 20, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

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Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 is a setting of a lovely chunk of prose text by James Agee describing an evening from his childhood. An accomplished singer himself, Barber's vocal writing is expert, and this work must rank as one of the finest examples of the art of word-setting in any language. Barber perfectly captures the conversational quality of the text, while at the same time clothing the words in an atmosphere of gentle nostalgia. It's a masterpiece that Dawn Upshaw sings with keen insight and lovely tone. The remainder of the program is creatively chosen as well, making this one of the finest vocal recitals available by an American singer. --David Hurwitz
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 20, 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000005IZ3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,919 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is the CD that made me fall in love with Dawn Upshaw's singing. I had heard her before and admired her work, but this disc made me a real fan. As it's one of her early recordings, her voice is somewhat "fuller" than on later work; she later started moving the voice "forward," simplifying the sound. Either way, her immense talent for communicating the essence of the text is the outstanding aspect of all her work. It's amazing how she can sound angry, desperate, hopeful, melancholic, all while producing a beautiful sound and tackling all the vocal challenges of the music she's singing. She inhabits the characters, the narrators, of each of the pieces on this disc, and makes it more than just a collection of songs or arias.
I want to make special mention of the Harbison _Mirabai Songs_, as it seems to have been maligned somewhat in other reviews here. This was the work that most kept me coming back to this disc when I first bought it. I think it is a masterpiece, and one of Harbison's best and most important works. (Apparently I'm not alone in my admiration of the piece, because I've heard it on a number of live concerts in recent years, so it seems to be having a successful performance life.) Harbison's song cycle is by turns exciting, sensual, driving, longing, beautiful. The orchestration for the small ensemble is masterful (as Harbison's efforts at scoring always are), and Upshaw expresses all of Mirabai's complex emotions enchantingly.
The _Rake's Progress_ aria also deserves individual comment. In this engrossing example of Stravinsky's neoclassical style, Upshaw assumes Anne's air of fierce determination, and brings the disc to an absolutely thrilling climax on a concluding high C.
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Format: Audio CD
Dawn Upshaw has a beautiful, natural voice and superb phrasing and diction. I've heard everything on this album sung by other performers (like Battle) and they come off sounding forced next to this recording. Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 is one of my favorite pieces; great text, beautifully integrated music. I can't count the number of times I've put this album into my CD player on repeat. For anyone who isn't a fan of classical vocal music because they think singers always sound too weird, buy this album. You'll understand how it's supposed to be.
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Format: Audio CD
People are always saying that they find a particular piece of music is "haunting." For me Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" is such a work. Dawn Upshaw's reading of this great American masterwork is the best I have yet heard. She won her first Grammy Award for this recording - and deservedly so. If you're a fan of either Upshaw or Barber you'll want to add this beautiful CD to your collection.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Even after a full career of terrific recordings, this remains one of the highpoints in Dawn Upshaw's discography. Released in 1988, when the lyric soprano was just 28, it won a Grammy and marked probably the best performance of Samuel Barber's classic "Knoxville: Summer of 1915." Upshaw's excellence is enhanced by a superior accompaniment job by David Zinman and the St Luke's orchestra and sound engineering that is at the audiophile level (in fact, I was recently using this disc to demo audio equipment).

Samuel Barber, from the Philadelphia area, was not native of the south but James Agee's prose poem about childhood, "Knoxville: Summer of `1915" clearly resonated with him. Rapidly drafted in 1947 and then revised over several years, the song has become something of a classic, its sultry poetry married to Barber's use of a nearly blues-like modal main theme. I compared the performance by Upshaw, born in Nashville, with the older 1960s performance by another singer from the south, Leontyne Price, and think Upshaw's is comprehensively better. Upshaw's comfort in the high part of her range, clarity of diction and musicality trumps Price's difficulties with fast passages, which mar the middle sections of her "Knoxville". Upshaw and Zinman provide a somewhat objective, more detached reading than the emotional, moody approach Price and her conductor Thomas Schippers take. While I like this moodiness, Upshaw's performance is just light years ahead technically and it is musical. You never want to proclaim a performance of a multifaceted work like "Knoxville" as definitive, but Upshaw comes close.

This fairly short disc - it clocks in at around 45 minutes - also contains a 1982 work by John Harbison, the Mirabai Songs.
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Format: Audio CD
I have had this disc for years, and I'm more impressed with it as the years roll by. I bought it for Barber's "Knoxville, Summer of 1915" which is a glorious piece of music caught here in a luminous performance. I didn't initially warm up to the Harbison songs, but they have grown on me over the years to the point that I listen to them far more often than the Barber now. I think it just took me a while to absorb Harbison's style and understand how deftly and ingeniously he uses it to take the listener into Mirabai's world. Not to be missed!
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