The wonderful Gerald Finley, described recently as ‘the best living baritone currently at the peak of his powers’ (The Globe and Mail), brings his ‘glorious sound and great dramatic instinct’ to this fascinating selection of songs, sensitively accompanied by Julius Drake.
Barber’s songs are among his greatest musical achievements, demonstrating above all his sustained lyric impulse and graceful melodic writing. Another aspect was his well-developed literary taste. He unfailingly selected texts of high quality, including English ‘Georgian’ poets, Irish bards, the French Symbolists and poets writing in English who were affected by them, such as James Joyce, as well as some of his own American contemporaries. Throughout his song output, he found ways of embodying the poets’ thought in musical correlatives that were never merely decorative, and developed an instinctive knack for embodying words in a memorable vocal shape. Presented here are a range of early and later songs including Barber’s first success for voice, Dover Beach, which the composer sang on its first recording in 1935.