Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Dale Duesing, Samuel Barber, Andrew Schenck|
Samuel Barber: The Lovers; Prayers of Kierkegaard
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Two rarities from Barber
Samer T Ismail | Danbury, CT | 02/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As the CD proclaims, this is the first recording of Barber's "The Lovers," a 1971 setting of poems from Pablo Neruda's "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair." (Incidentally, Neruda won the Nobel Prize in Literature that year.)The lyrics, while neither "raunchy" nor obscene, are forthright: the baritones enter one of the work's nine movements singing "Strip off your clothes, strip off your clothes."The forces acquit themselves admirably, as the piece slowly works its way from the lust of the opening movement to the despair of the final movement ("Cemetery of kisses"), with its final hushed lament, "Forsaken!" Duesing in particular makes a fine soloist in this work.A bit less successful is the performance of "Prayers of Kierkegaard", which makes an interesting comparison, in that it is a setting of four prayers of divine love. The performance is good, but a comparison to Robert Shaw's Grammy-winning recording for Telarc does not help this CD. On the plus side, the "orchestral dance" before the final prayer comes off a little more clearly, and a little more heavily, on this CD. On the downside, Sarah Reese sings with far too much vibrato (as do, to a lesser extent, the sopranos in the chorus), robbing the soprano solo of much of the purity and beauty that Carmen Pelton gives the Telarc recording.I would definitely recommend this to fans of Barber for "The Lovers" alone; if you're looking for "Prayers of Kierkegaard," however, go with Shaw on Telarc. [Also, at 52 minutes, the CD is a bit too short, at full-price, to recommend to someone just getting started with Barber. It is a pity, given the extra space available, that they couldn't have included a third work, such as Barber's "Medea's Dance of Vengeance"--which would have provided a third view on love (in this case, love denied/betrayed).]"
Barber Rarities Shine
Christopher Schmitz | Rocky River, Ohio United States | 04/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Samuel Barber had a reputation as a literary composer, and his taste in written material, the angsty journals of Soren Kierkegaard and the lushly sensual poems of Pablo Neruda, reflect well on his taste.I'm a big Barber fan. His biography, which includes being an army brat, a drinker, and a homosexual, is intriguing, and his insistence on sad sweet lyricism and hummable melody through a 20th century of percussive dissonance and willful abstraction is brave.I had high hopes for the Neruda settings. These poems fairly cackle with eroticism and sensuality, encompassing both love and loss. Barber's musical romanticism should have been the perfect match, but his take on "The Lovers" never quite comes to life. His melodies seem static here and fail to captivate--so unlike his achingly lovely Essays for Orchestra and famously elegaic Adagio for Strings.The "Prayers of Kierkegaard," on the other hand, achieve sublimity. Barber's musical settings for these open the disc and show us many faces: quasi-Gregorian chant, mellifluous mezzo soloes, Stravinskian thunder, seamless choral work in the service of inspired melodies. It's intriguing that Barber seems more able to craft fine music for works about religious rather than erotic ecstasy.This Grammy-winning disc is a pristine digital recording. Its clarity is beyond reproach, and its performances from the orchestra and the chorus are fine ones. Another reviewer prefers the Telarc recording of "Prayers," and I will be investigating this on the chance that he's correct. I hope so!
I'd gladly own two or more versions of this underrated work."
Soothing to the Soul
J. E. Gibbons | Framingham, MA United States | 07/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you like music to calm your tormented spirit this one is for you. The amplitude or the recording runs from barely audible to overwhelming. You will be adjusting your volume control several times in order to fully appreciate this CD. 'The Lovers' is easier to listen to requiring less adjustment. Prayers of Kierkegaard Op. 30 was my motive for purchasing but it is over much too quickly @ 19 minutes 20 seconds. Overall my only negative thought is that the time of the pieces disappoints. The total length of both pieces is only 51 minutes 51 seconds which seems to pass too quickly for my liking. The performance is clean and typical of Barber with dramatic chorale combining with great orchestration. I would classify this CD as Operatic. Hope this helps."