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BARBER: Knoxville: Summer of 1915 / Essays for Orchestra Nos. 2 and 3

Composer(s):Barber, Samuel
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category OrchestralVocal
Catalogue 8.559134
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
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This fifth instalment in ‘Naxos’s continuing and continuously revelatory series devoted to Barber’s music’ (The Daily Telegraph), conducted by Gramophone Artist of the Year 2003 Marin Alsop, features the ripely romantic Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a ‘lyric rhapsody’ for soprano and orchestra, and the rarely-recorded Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra which, with its fast, furious opening fanfare and virtuosic cadenza, is a veritable tourde- force for the soloist.


Review By Classic FM,

Karina Gauvin sings Barber’s Knoxville, followed by Thomas Trotter on the organ and Alsop and the RSNO for Essays for Orchestra

In this delightful rendition of Knoxville, Gauvin’s voice blends with the delicate scoring to memorable effect. The two Essays for Orchestra are more of an acquired taste, and I am not sure whether the Toccata Festiva is good music (the balance between organ and orchestra is not good). But it is graced by the playing of Thomas Trotter—the infamous pedal cadenza is simply jaw-dropping. © Classic FM

Review By Stephen O. Murray,,April 2010

As I wrote in my review of the first of the five Naxos American Classics recordings of orchestral work by Samuel Barber (1910–1981), My experience with playing violin in Barber’s Adagio for Strings goes way back, long before its fame was increased by use in “Platoon” and other movies. My experience of “Toccata Festiva” for organ and orchestra goes back to college, when I would often listen to a recording of 20th-century music for organ and orchestra made by E. Power Biggs and the Philadelphia Orchestra through headphones in the James Madison College Library (though I liked the Poulenc Organ Concerto on the same disc more than the Barber).

Review By James Jolly,South Florida Sun-Sentinel,January 2009

[Alsop’s] most recent Barber collection with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra contains a glorious and deeply moving performance of Knoxville: The Summer of 1915…I would stick my neck out and suggest that she will be first woman conductor to make a huge—and acclaimed—career in the mainstream symphonic repertoire. And it will be well deserved! And all that explains why she’s currently our Artist of the Year!

Review By ,Scherzo,July 2004


Review By Matthew Rye,The Daily Telegraph (Australia),May 2004

It’s gentle nostalgia for summers past, spent in the shade of a Southern porch, is movingly portrayed in this latest instalment in Marin Alsop’s Barber series for Naxos. Karina Gauvin conveys just the right degree of ingenuousness, yet brings out the darker forebodings of mortality in Agee’s text, and the often chamber-like delicacy of the orchestral writing is defined with idea clarity by recording and conductor…the RSNO combines power and instrumental candour, and Alsop reveals her characteristic skill in orchestral characterisation.


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