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Orchestral Works, Volume 1; Symphonies Nos 1…

Orchestral Works, Volume 1; Symphonies Nos 1 and 2 [CD]

by Samuel Barber

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Barber remained a lifelong admirer of not only Brahms but also Schubert, Schumann, and other nineteenth-century composers. "How much Schubert, even in a four-hand arrangement, can say to us . . . !" he wrote to his uncle, the composer Sidney Homer, in 1952. And although his strong identification with Brahms around 1930 accompanied a momentary disenchantment with Wagner, by 1936 he found himself "in a very Wagnerian state" after hearing Furtwüngler conduct at Bayreuth.

Although Barber never wrote anything as explicitly Sibelian as, say, Walton's First Symphony (1934), his; music itself suggests the influence of Sibelius, something occasionally noted by commentators, especially with regard to such early works as the Cello Sonata, the First Symphony, and the Violin Concerto. In a review of the Cello Sonata, Julian Budden even referred to one of the work's melodies as "an unashamed ' Hommage à Sibelius.' In 1949, Barber himself, in speaking of the 1936 world premiere of the First Symphony in Italy, recalled that the Italian public received the work coolly because "at the time it was thought too dark-toned, too Nordic and Sibelian.
  antimuzak | Dec 8, 2008 |
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