Barber: Violin Concerto; Symphony # 1
Imperial Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra; Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra; William Strickland, conductor; Wolfgang Stavonhagen, violin

Barber’s own description of his First Symphony holds true in equal measure for the 1936 and 1942 versions: “The form of my Symphony in One Movement is a synthetic treatment of the four- movement classical symphony. It is based on three themes of the initial Allegro non troppo, which retain throughout the work their fundamental character. The Allegro opens with the exposition of the main theme, a more lyrical second theme, and a closing theme. After a brief development of the three themes, instead of the usual recapitulation, the first theme, in diminution, forms the basis of a scherzo section (Vivace). The second theme (oboe over muted strings) then appears in augmentation in an extended Andante tranquillo. An intense crescendo introduces the finale which is a short passacaglia based on the first theme (introduced by the violoncelli and contrabassi), over which, together with figures from other themes, the closing theme is woven, thus serving as a recapitulation for the entire symphony.”

While the Symphony is intensely dramatic in expression, Barber’s Violin Concerto is almost wholly lyrical. The Concerto was completed in 1939 and was premiered by the late Albert Spalding with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra on February 7, 1941.

The Allegro moderato first movement opens in Barber’s most, lyrico-arioso manner, then passes on to a secondary theme of somewhat skipping iambic character—but not aggressively so. The lyricism becomes more intense and somber in the A-B-A Andante slow movement, but with the finale Presto in moto perpetual, the soloist has something more to do than make beautiful sounds. Here he must sail full tilt through subtly irregular rhythms and through an occasional thicket of dissonant texture.



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Imperial Philharmonic of Tokyo

Barber: Violin Concerto; Symphony # 1

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Track Listing

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op.14: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op.14: I. Allegro moderato
Samuel Barber
Buy
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op.14: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op.14: II. Andante
Samuel Barber
Buy
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op.14: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op.14: III. Presto
Samuel Barber
Buy
Symphony in One Movement, Op. 9
Samuel Barber
Buy