&ldquoAs Alsop faced the cellos and drew from them the most tremendously shaped phrases with every inflection of her baton, you were aware of being in the presence of greatness.&rdquo

Barber: Knoxville: Summer of 1915 /
Essays for Orchestra Nos. 2 & 3

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Naxos 8.559134
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The Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin sings it gorgeously and excels some of her better-known colleagues in the clarity of her diction. Marin Alsop conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in eloquent performances of all the works on this excellent disc.

2nd September 2004

Under certain circumstances the partnership between American conductor Marin Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra can be electric. It’s happened again with this latest in Naxos’s ongoing survey of Samuel Barber.

Kenneth Walton, Scotsman.com

15th June 2004

Gramophone’s Recording of the Month

With deeply expressive playing from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the result is ravishing – one of the finest versions of Knoxville – to date. Alsop’s tautly argued Second Essay is equally satisfying. She wisely resists the temptation to stretch the tempo at climactic moments, creating a strong sense of momentum; one feels swept along by the music’s powerful current. The lean sonority she elicits from the RSNO also suits Alsop’s ear-opening Barber series reaches a new high-point with this instalment. Strongly recommended.

Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone Magazine

May 2004

Naxos’s disc remains a happy purchase. Alsop conducts beautifully, never highlighting individual details at the expense of the overall structure. Her command is particularly impressive in the Second Essay for Orchestra, a masterpiece of concise symphonic thought.

The Times (UK)

16th April 2004