SAMUEL BARBER: Capricorn Concerto; A Hand of Bridge; Mutations from Bach; Intermezzo from Vanessa; Canzonetta for oboe and strings; Fadograph of a Yestern Scene

by | May 17, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

SAMUEL BARBER: Capricorn Concerto; A Hand of Bridge; Mutations from
Bach; Intermezzo from Vanessa; Canzonetta for oboe and strings;
Fadograph of a Yestern Scene – Stephane Rancourt, oboe (in
Canzonetta)/other soloists/Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Marin
Alsop – Naxos American Classics 8.559135, 52:28 ****:

In the sixth and last volume in Naxos’ series on the complete
orchestral works of Barber, we have some of the shorter works from this
American composer who often combined late Romantic style with more
modernist tendencies. The three-movement Capricorn Concerto was named
after Barber’s home, and he chose for it exactly the same instruments
as featured in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, and in the final
movement pays tribute to Bach with a trumpet fanfare. A Hand of Bridge
was commissioned for Menotti’s Spoleto Festival and is a nine-minute
opera for four voices with a witty and bitchy libretto by Menotti,
Barber’s companion at the time. The Intermezzo from Barber’s second
opera Vanessa is a strikingly beautiful short piece on a par with the
composer’s popular Adagio for Strings. The closing Fadograph of a
Yestern Scene comes from the composer’s sad final years, after the
failure of his opera Antony and Cleopatra and his reclusive existence
in his NYC apartment. It sounds surprisingly like Debussy. The works
receive fine performances from the Scottish forces, led by one of the
world’s leading women conductors today. Engineering is also on target,
with names such as Tony Faulkner involved.
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