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Barber: Adagio; Symphony No.1 etc. by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra [Orchestra]
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If you’ve got Schippers’s superb Barber collection on Sony, then this is the only other Barber disc you are likely to need. Three of the pieces overlap, true, but the Symphony No. 1, the Music for a Scene from Shelley, and the Essay No. 1 are all unique to this disc, and together the two CDs will give you the essential Barber for orchestra. All of this music is extremely easy on the ear, but at the same time so commanding in utterance that it’s hard to believe that Barber was considered a regressive, backward-looking composer during his lifetime. Now, when everyone is taking up the cause of tonality and melody once again, he sounds positively prophetic. David Zinman’s performances are as fine as Schippers’s, which is to say just about perfect. –David Hurwitz