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Barber - Songs
The wonderful Gerald Finley, described recently as ‘the best living baritone currently at the peak of his powers’ (The Globe and Mail), brings his ‘glorious sound and great dramatic instinct’ to this fascinating selection of songs, sensitively accompanied by Julius Drake.
“This is a pretty stunning achievement. At his most mellifluous and focused, Gerald Finley has beauty of tone to spare. But he is also at his most expressive – hollowing out the voice for the hopelessness of the song “Bessie Bobtail”, letting it splinter with anger at the climax of the brief, furious “Sea Snatch”.
Throughout, Julius Drake proves a predictably accomplished, thoughtful partner. The pair move easily and logically from the prettiness of the very early songs through the complexities of the Hermit Songs and the pensive Mélodies passagères.
It’s a canny move
to place Dover Beach
as the final track. The introduction of the string quartet to close the disc shifts the mood, sending us off in another direction. It comes as a hopeful reminder of the wonder of love, even with a sting in its tail. Entirely appropriate for a bittersweet, marvellous collection.” Gramophone Magazine
“Performances of this calibre emphasise Barber's stature in the mainstream… The immediate comparison is with the Gramophone Award-winning Thomas Hampson… Most I prefer Finley, and the recording is warmer.” Gramophone Magazine, Janurary 2008
“As on his 2005 Ives collection, the Canadian baritone Gerald Finley is golden in tone, persuasive in phrasing, and unfailingly responsive to the sound and sense of the words. Julius Drake once more proves a strong and imaginative partner, and a quartet from the Aronowitz Ensemble makes a promising recording debut.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2007 *****
“Performances of this calibre emphasise Barber's stature in the mainstream of 20th-century song composers. The tradition is Anglo-American and There's nae lark, written when Barber was 16 to a poem by Swinburne in imitation Scots, could even be by Quilter.
But Barber soon gets into his stride and by the time he reached his Three Songs, Op 10, there's a rare kind of intensity as impressive as anything on this CD. The poems are from James Joyce's Chamber Music; Barber set a few more, such as Inthe dark pinewood included here; but what a tragedy he never set the whole cycle that could have been an American Winterreise. The Hermit Songs, fey and whimsically amusing, are probably the best-known set.
'Sure on the shining shore' is vintage Barber, and Finley and Drake are impeccable (as are the Aronowitz Quartet in Dover Beach). The French songs, to poems by Rilke, who did write in French, have less character, but the single songs are all gems. An outstanding release.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
BBC Music Magazine
Choral & Song Choice - December 2007
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Mélodies Passagères: Songs of Samuel Barber
Samuel Barber’s parents had hoped he would follow his father into the medical profession, but his burgeoning musical ability soon took over. Barber himself had a fine baritone voice, studying singing as well as composition and piano. Throughout his career, Barber’s instinct for vocal shaping would influence his output, with half of his published compositions being vocal. Among the best of today’s young British singers, Gweneth-Ann Jeffers is noted for commanding voice and vivid personality. New Zealand pianist Stephen De Pledge is one of the most exciting and versatile musicians of his generation. His solo performances have taken him throughout the UK, including five solo recitals in the Wigmore Hall.
“She is at her best in the witty and touching Hermit Songs...Jeffers gets the swing; her high note are impressive but at times in these performances there's too much vibrato.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2012
“Jeffers catches each mood with poise and grace; solid accompaniments from de Pledge.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2012 *****
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Great Performances from the Library of Congress, Vol. 19
Leontyne Price and Samuel Barber in Concert
Six Folk Songs
Bach, C P E:
Nocturne, Op. 33
Nuvoletta, Op. 25
Hermit Songs, Op. 29
Der Gang Zum Liebchen, Op. 31 No. 3
Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht, Op. 96 No. 1
Au bord de l'eau, Op. 8 No. 1 (Prudhomme)
Ist es wahr?
Quatre Poemès de Paul Eluard
Métamorphoses: C'est ainsi que tu es
Der Jüngling an der Quelle, D300 (Salis-Seewis)
In der Fremde (No. 1 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)
The 1953 recording features the spectacular twenty-six year old Leontyne Price, accompanied by Samuel Barber at the Library of Congress. The duo's entire recital is issued whole for the first time. In this recital the soprano and composer give the world premiere performance of Barber's "Hermit Songs", and perform Henri Sauguet's "La Voyante" (The Fortune Teller) and other songs by Barber, Poulenc and Fauré.
This remarkable 1938 recording, released to the public for the first time, gives us the 28 year old baritone, Samuel Barber in 12 songs, accompanying himself at the piano. These little known performances reveal Barber as a singer/player of uncommonly deep communicative power. The performances (issued in cooperation with Mr. Barber's estate and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia) include folk songs from England, America, the Tyrol and Tuscany as well as lieder by Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, C.P.E Bach and Schubert.
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