Samuel Barber: The Complete Songs

Dylan Perez

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Samuel Barber: The Complete Songs Review

by James Manheim

During modernist rule, just a few works by Samuel Barber were played, for those pesky audiences insisted on hearing them. Now he is recognized as a 20th century great in Britain and even continental Europe as well as in his native U.S. Yet until now, no one has collected his complete songs, although he wrote a lot of them in all phases of his career. For an accompanist as young as pianist Dylan Perez, putting together a multi-singer album united by his presence may seem a bold move, but his choice is justified by the material. The songs cover Barber's entire career, from his student days to the 1970s, and few of them are without some point of interest. Dover Beach, Op. 3, for voice and string quartet, is one of Barber's most popular compositions and is present here, cleanly rendered by Julian Van Mellaerts; there is also a rarely heard piano version of Barber's familiar orchestral song here titled Knoxville 1915, but much of the material will be new to listeners. The first CD of the physical release features Barber's published songs, while the second collects unpublished works first issued after Barber's death; many of the latter, largely but not exclusively early works, here receive their world premieres. The Hermit Songs, Op. 29, adapted by W.H. Auden from delightful anonymous medieval texts (listen to "The Monk and His Cat") are probably the high point of Barber's song output, and they receive superbly sensitive treatment from soprano Mary Bevan. She is well established, but many of the singers are up-and-comers, and this release might serve a secondary purpose of acquainting listeners with some of these. All are British or resident in Britain, and most of Barber's texts are British, interestingly enough. Perez's presence does tie the program together, even though Barber, a formidable pianist, did not write difficulties into the piano part; the songs are mostly short, intelligent responses to the texts. A real find for Barber fans and art song lovers of any stripe rightly greeted with commercial success.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Three Songs, Op. 2
1 Dylan Perez 01:05 Amazon
2 Dylan Perez 01:20 Amazon
3 Dylan Perez 02:53 Amazon
Three Songs, Op. 10
4 Dylan Perez 02:29 Amazon
5 Dylan Perez 02:48 Amazon
6 Dylan Perez 02:37 Amazon
Four Songs, Op. 13
7 Dylan Perez 01:32 Amazon
8 Dylan Perez 01:13 Amazon
9 Dylan Perez 02:23 Amazon
10 Dylan Perez 03:55 Amazon
Two Songs, Op. 18
11 Dylan Perez 02:29 Amazon
12 Dylan Perez 01:19 Amazon
13 Dylan Perez 05:18 Amazon
Mélodies passagères, Op. 27
14 Dylan Perez 01:24 Amazon
15 Dylan Perez 02:23 Amazon
16 Dylan Perez 01:55 Amazon
17 Dylan Perez 01:30 Amazon
18 Dylan Perez 01:52 Amazon
Hermit Songs, Op. 29
19 Dylan Perez 01:33 Amazon
20 Dylan Perez 00:55 Amazon
21 Dylan Perez 03:22 Amazon
22 Dylan Perez 01:16 Amazon
23 Dylan Perez 02:11 Amazon
24 Dylan Perez 00:41 Amazon
25 Dylan Perez 01:00 Amazon
26 Dylan Perez 03:01 Amazon
27 Dylan Perez 01:04 Amazon
28 Dylan Perez 03:42 Amazon
Despite and Still, Op. 41
29 Dylan Perez 02:17 Amazon
30 Dylan Perez 01:05 Amazon
31 Dylan Perez 03:06 Amazon
32 Dylan Perez 02:44 Amazon
33 Dylan Perez 01:34 Amazon
Three Songs, Op. 45
34 Dylan Perez 02:04 Amazon
35 Dylan Perez 02:14 Amazon
36 Dylan Perez 03:38 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Dylan Perez 01:21 Amazon
2 Dylan Perez 02:21 Amazon
3 Dylan Perez 00:49 Amazon
Two Poems of the Wind
4 Dylan Perez 01:20 Amazon
5 Dylan Perez 02:00 Amazon
Two Songs of Youth
6 Dylan Perez 01:21 Amazon
7 Dylan Perez 01:19 Amazon
8 Dylan Perez 03:14 Amazon
9 Dylan Perez 03:09 Amazon
10 Dylan Perez 01:57 Amazon
11 Dylan Perez 01:27 Amazon
12 Dylan Perez 01:55 Amazon
13 Dylan Perez 01:56 Amazon
14 Dylan Perez 02:39 Amazon
15 Dylan Perez 02:05 Amazon
16 Dylan Perez 01:44 Amazon
17 Dylan Perez 01:23 Amazon
18 Dylan Perez 01:54 Amazon
19 Dylan Perez 02:16 Amazon
20 Dylan Perez 01:11 Amazon
21 Dylan Perez 01:34 Amazon
22
Man
Dylan Perez 02:49 Amazon
23 Dylan Perez 01:51 Amazon
24 Dylan Perez 01:55 Amazon
25 Dylan Perez 01:16 Amazon
26 Dylan Perez 03:27 Amazon
27 Dylan Perez 01:33 Amazon
28 Dylan Perez 02:10 Amazon
29 Dylan Perez 01:34 Amazon
30 Dylan Perez 07:43 Amazon
31 Dylan Perez 16:53 Amazon
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