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This is an excellent collection of the best of Samuel Barber's orchestral music. The Violin Concerto is a wonderful piece and probably the greatest violin concerto written by an American. It receives a superlative performance and both Stern and Bernstein capture the elegiac nature of the work in a way that is deeply moving. The Piano Concerto receives a similarly classic performance from Browning and Szell. All of the other works are well performed and recorded , including the very enjoyable School for Scandal overture. If nothing else the disc is a collection of performances by four great conductors- Bernstein, Szell, Ormandy and Schippers. Barber is a very unpretentious and accessible composer who deserves greater recognition. Highly recommended.
I chose this CD mainly for the violin concerto and the adagio for strings. So I was a little concerned that the famous adagio was recorded as early as 1957 and suspected that the quality of the strings sound would lack clarity. However, this version sounds very good, no doubt due in no small part to the excellent combination of Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The violin concerto of 1964 vintage benefits from the excellent playing of Isaac Stern and the New York Philharmonic under the masterful baton of Leonard Bernstein.
I have always loved the violin concerto , especially the second movement . The piano concerto , although a much more modern piece , was also something of a revelation . Excellent recordings of both pieces , and at the price paid , well worth the purchase
These are all fantastic performances - classics - you won't hear a better violin concerto or piano concerto - just masterful here and none of the others I have and have heard come close to these essentials. Sound is Columbia stereo from their grand period and certainly the price is right. Not much to think about here - this is instantly one of my favorite CD purchases.
The violin concerto must go down as the best solo work with orchestra of the three that S. Barber wrote. Unfortunately, this statement could be tainted since I am a violinist. I find the piano concerto a dull piece although John Browning gives a marvelous performance of this. It's hard to believe that three violinists looked over the manuscript of the violin concerto and couldn't solve the complexities well enough to perfect the work. I like Stern's interpretation of this, but I prefer an even legato phrasing in the opening theme of the first movement intead of what sounds like a squeegee use of the bow over the eigth notes in a Heifetz type mannerism; otherwise, the rest of his playing is wonderful. Compare this to Joshua Bell's playing and you have two sides of the same coin.
The Adagio for Strings is played with a lush romantic sound that cannot fail.