This new compilation of incidental Barber from Neeme JÄrvi's early-'90s Detroit Symphony survey is hardly incidental.
This new compilation of incidental Barber from Neeme Järvi's early-'90s Detroit Symphony survey is hardly incidental. By eschewing the hackneyed for the relatively rarely heard, Chandos presents one of the finest showcases for the composer's less-anachronistic music. The beautifully dark-hued First Essay for Orchestra mines emotional territory similar to that of the famously moving Adagio for Strings, while the dramatic Music for a Scene From Shelley and two sweeter orchestral excerpts from the 1958 Puliter Prize-winning opera Vanessa are archetypal examples of quality 20th-century neo-romanticism. The Second and Third Essays are far more dynamic, percussive pieces, as is the even violent Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance from Barber's late-'40s Martha Graham ballet Medea (Caves of the Heart). The Chandos sound is generally excellent, and Järvi works wonders with the Detroit orchestra, which sounds at one with this repertoire. Distributed in the U.S. by Koch.—BB