Apart from the infamous 'Adagio', I really didn't know much more of Barber's work. I heard a snippet of a new recording of his violin concerto on Radio 3 and thought this CD was worth a go. As other reviewers have pointed out, these are actually three famous recordings of each of these works, so the performance is excellent in each. The works themselves demonstrate tremendous variety - I suspect Barber maybe isn't better known because he didn't fall into an obvious category. His contemporaries were becoming interested in antonality and serialism, and these concertos are unashamedly romantic in spirit. However, they are far from conventional or predictable. The first two movements of the violin concerto are flowing and lyrical - the final movement is spikey and restless. The piano concerto has a gorgeous and delicate second movement, the first and last movements are frenetic. Only the cello concerto feels more settled, though it's not without its surprises.
The soloists are all first class, Bernstein extracts every ounce of brilliance from Stern; Browning and Yo-Yo Ma are also as consistent and measured as you would expect. The recording quality is very good considering the age of some of these performances, though to my ears, Stern's violin is just a little too high in the mix and has an over-sweetness to it - though this does not detract from the enjoyment.
Overall, definitely worth a try. Barber has a similar quality to Britten - every listening brings out something new.
Barber: Concertos for Violin etc
Worth for Stern and Lenny2014年6月11日に英国でレビュー済み
This is one of the great recorded performances of a later romantic violin, informed as it is with jazz-like variation and 20th century idiom. The first movement has complete structural integrity and coherence. The last movement has you on the edge of your seat. As for the emotional heart of the piece, it is hard to find anything more nostalgically beautiful than the opening orchestral statement of that glorious theme, before of course Stern's wonderful entry with deep vibrato on his beloved Guaneri leading us on rhapsodic journey to the restatement of the opening theme which makes you forget even the movement's beginning. Stern comes as close as anyone to Heifetz for phrasing and beauty of tone in this performance. The other two excellent performances are a bonus really but make up must-have disc.