Header image of page : VFJO / GAFFIGAN / ŠPAČEK


Barber, Stravinsky

James Gaffigan conducts the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra in two early-career masterpieces, Barber’s Violin Concerto with Josef Špaček as soloist, and Stravinsky’s multicoloured Firebird Suite.


SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981)
Violin Concerto Op. 14

The Firebird, Suite (1919 version)

Samuel Barber was just 29 in 1939 when he wrote his Violin Concerto. Like the Adagio for Strings which had made him famous the previous year, the concerto sounds more rooted in European Romanticism than in the music of his native America, even down to its cloudless first movement emulating Mendelssohn’s violin concerto by introducing its soloist instantly, and its central movement opening on an exquisite extended oboe solo, as Brahms’s does. The finale is then an urgent perpetuum mobile. Stravinsky was also in his late twenties when, in 1909, Sergei Diaghilev commissioned the ballet, The Firebird. Combining a nineteenth century fairytale poem and a popular Russian fable, it tells of how a prince rescues a princess from an ogre, helped by a magical firebird – and Stravinsky’s glittering score became his breakthrough work, its blend of exoticism and Russian folk style so successful that he thenok worked three concert suites from it.