Leonard Slatkin / Elmar Oliveira / St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Barber: Orchestral and Chamber Works

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While not the best single set of the music of Samuel Barber ever recorded -- Thomas Schippers' mid-'60s recording with the New York Philharmonic will hold that title from now unto perpetuity -- this two-disc set of recordings by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony is still not to be missed by anyone who loves Barber's neo-Romantic music. Slatkin's approach to Barber is strongly emotional and powerfully dramatic. His stormy interpretations of Barber's three Essays for Orchestra make them sound like the American descendants of Brahms' Tragic Overture. His witty interpretation of the School for Scandal Overture makes it sound like latter-day Mendelssohn. His gaudy interpretation of the Medea's Dance of Vengeance sounds like latter-day Strauss. His singing, soaring, and swelling interpretation of the ever-popular Adagio for Strings makes it sound like latter-day Mahler. With the sweet-toned Elmar Oliveira, Slatkin's interpretation of Barber's Violin Concerto is achingly lyrical and eloquently affecting, making it sound like latter-day Tchaikovsky. While Schippers goes deeper and further into Barber's music, his recordings cannot be denied -- Schippers' Barber always sounded only like Barber -- Slatkin's recordings are still well worth hearing and, with the bonus recordings of chamber music and piano music by members of the New York Philharmonic, arguably more representative. EMI's early digital sound is a bit dry and recessed, but clean and clear.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Cello Sonata, for cello & piano, Op. 6
1 08:22 Amazon
2 04:22 Amazon
3 06:13 Amazon
4 04:25 Amazon
Excursions (4), for piano, Op. 20
5 02:53 Amazon
6 05:09 Amazon
7 03:23 Amazon
8 02:39 Amazon
9 04:28 Amazon
Summer Music, for wind quintet, Op. 31
10 02:06 Amazon
11 00:34 Amazon
12 01:16 Amazon
13 04:50 Amazon
14 01:21 Amazon
15 01:29 Amazon
Souvenirs, suite for piano, 4 hands, Op. 28
16 04:51 Amazon
17 02:03 Amazon
18 12:11 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick