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Samuel Barber – Interpretative Genius (New Audio Clip)

Samuel Barber, probably best known for his meltingly beautiful Adagio for Strings, also wrote many wonderful works for voice and piano.  Among these treasures is the song cycle “Despite and Still”.

On my audio clips page you will find two songs from this cycle recorded live (nothing added, nothing taken away…) with pianist and composer Andrew Wise at a concert featuring our latest recital programme “Classic Meets Cabaret”.

“Solitary Hotel” merits a special mention.  It is a setting of prose – not poetry – already an unusual choice.  Furthermore, the words come from the extraordinary, highly individual “Ulysses” by James Joyce. 

Barber’s interpretation takes a paragraph of Joyce’s brittle prose and, using an imaginative ‘tango’ style, fashions something almost three dimensional that runs like a video clip.

See for yourself.  Here is the paragraph by Joyce :

‘Solitary hotel in mountain pass.  Autumn.  Twilight.  Fire lit.  In dark corner young man seated.  Young woman enters.  Restless.  Solitary.  She sits.  She goes to window.  She stands.  She sits.  Twilight.  She thinks.  On solitary hotel paper she writes.  She thinks.  She writes.  She sighs.  Wheels and hoofs.  She hurries out.  He comes from his dark corner.  He seizes solitary paper.  He holds it towards fire.  Twilight.  He reads.  Solitary.


In sloping, upright and backhands: Queen’s hotel, Queen’s hotel, Queen’s ho…’

And now listen to Barber’s setting :


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