Barber: Violin Concerto; Piano Concerto; Souvenirs

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LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Piano Concerto; Souvenirs
PERFORMER: Robert McDuffie (violin), Jon Kimura Parker (piano); Atlanta SO/Yoel Levi
In these days of ‘easy listening’ contemporary music, few fit the bill better than the American composer Samuel Barber. His infamous Adagio for Strings will be his calling card for the majority but, for those unfamiliar with his other work, this disc may well be a revelation. Barber began his Violin Concerto in Switzerland in 1939. Forced to flee from the rumblings of war, Barber completed it in New York and this change of scene shows: there is an uneasy gear shift between the first two, richly tonal movements and the final, relentless moto perpetuo. But the slow movement is magical. Violinist Robert McDuffie has a fine, focused sound and he is well balanced with the orchestra.


Less happy is the sound and balance of Jon Kimura Parker as soloist in Barber’s 1962 Piano Concerto. The keyboard sounds muffled, lacking brightness at the top and appearing in an odd sound perspective to the orchestra. This work brings to mind both Prokofiev and Khachaturian, whereas the delightful Souvenirs will appeal to lovers of Walton’s Façade. Annette Morreau