This is Barber’s single most popular work – originally a movement from his String Quartet, which the conductor Toscanini with remarkable perception suggested should be rescored for full strings.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHAN 9169
Barber’s genius for setting words to music showed itself early with this setting of Matthew Arnold’s melancholy poem.
Gerald Finley (baritone); Aronowitz Ensemble
Hyperion CDA 67528
Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Though essentially a setting of a prose passage, Barber captures both its musicality and its idyll of a summer’s afternoon spent on a porch in Tennessee.
Dawn Upshaw (soprano); St Luke’s Orchestra/David Zinman
Nonesuch 7559 79187 2
Sharing something of the spirit of Knoxville, Barber’s Violin Concerto starts with two dreamily lyrical movements, then finishes with a hurtling finale.
Isaac Stern; New York Philharmonic/Leonard Bernstein
Sony SMK 89751
Barber’s first opera is lusciously Romantic in style and enjoyed a first-rate cast at its premiere including Eleanor Steber and Nicolai Gedda, who went on to make a studio recording.
Eleanor Steber, Nicolai Gedda; Metropolitan Opera/Dimitri Mitropoulos