52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Opus 24* (1948)
Second Essay, Opus 17 (1942)
Third Essay, Opus 47 (1976)
Toccata Festiva, Opus 36 (1960) ^
*Karina Gauvin, soprano
^Thomas Trotter, organ
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Marin Alsop
Recorded 27 October 2002 (Knoxville), 3 May 1999 (Second Essay), 18 March 2001 (Third Essay), Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 11 June 2002, Paisley Abbey (Toccata)
NAXOS 8.559134 [56.55]

Marin Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra continue their highly successful Barber series with this interesting programme of shorter works.

The excellence of enterprise is established by the opening item: Knoxville. This recollection of childhood innocence is among Barberís most captivating and enchanting compositions, and the partnership of these musicians captures the tone admirably, The recording too is particularly fine, from Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow. Karina Gauvin is deserving of special praise, moreover, for her combination of faultless, warm timbre and tightly articulated rhythmic control. A rare combination, perfectly suited to this music.

The two Essays for orchestra bring other features of the composer to the fore. Both pieces are strongly crafted, and Marin Alsop sees this as her priority in performing them. Accordingly one senses an overview of direction rather than an indulgence of phrasing in the shorter term. Maybe this is why the Second Essay seems a finer work than the Third; maybe it is true of the music itself.

The final item, the appropriately titled Toccata Festiva, was recorded in the ample acoustic of Paisley Abbey, where Thomas Trotter could add the richness and weight of organ tone. The drawback is that the acoustic has less definition and impact than that of Henry Wood Hall, and some of the brilliance of the organ part is probably lost. Be that as it may, the results are still impressive, and this is undoubtedly an excellent addition to an already distinguished collection of Barber performances.

Terry Barfoot

see also review by Rob Barnett

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.