Orchestral Works Volume 1
The School for Scandal Overture. Op.5.
Symphony No. 1, Op.9
First Essay for Orchestra, Op.12
Symphony No. 2, Op.19
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
- Marin Alsop
Playing Time 69.47, Digital Recording, Recorded 8-9 / 12 / 98.At Henry Wood
The School for Scandal Overture, which opens this disc, sets the tone for
the whole release. The music has a truly American flavour (just listen to
the oboe melody) and the orchestra relishes its trans-Atlantic trip. The
strings, however, can tend towards the scrawny, something which recurs throughout
In both of the symphonies, one can sense the RSNO's lack of familiarity with
the notes and there is a resultant unconfident edge. So, whilst Barber's
additive processes towards climaxes are effectively realised in the first
movement of the first Symphony and the finale is appropriately heart-on-sleeve,
the Allegro molto second movement lacks the visceral edge it so needs.
Similarly, the woodwind enjoy the spiky, dissonant opening to the Second
Symphony (and the rest of the first movement is positively bursting with
energy), but the orchestra does not have the measure of the last movement,
neither technically nor atmospherically.
The darker language of the First Essay, sandwiched between the Symphonies,
is an example of Barber's private side. Here the orchestra seems fully at
Chandos reissued Dutoit's versions of the symphonies with the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra on CHAN9684, but kept the full price tag. The recording is superior
to the current disc (and the orchestra is geographically authentic), so this
remains the top recommendation in this field if you can spare the extra outlay.
See also Rob Barnett's