Excursions, Op. 20 by Samuel Barber, one of the most famous American composers of the 20th century, is his first published work for solo piano. Excursions are four musical miniatures reflecting the spirit of the United States. The first piece is based on the boogie-woogie manner, active and syncopated pulsation, dissonant harmonies, improvisational melodies. This miniature takes the listener into the urban hustle and bustle of the city. The second piece is a lazy blues based on rich harmonies. It does not copy other examples of American music, but rather conveys the classical composer’s take on this exceptional genre. The third piece reflects the atmosphere of the streets of Laredo. Its main theme, based on variations, is the famous American cowboy ballad, Streets of Laredo, also known as The Dying Cowboy. This piece features a lyrical melody, complemented by playful and energetic inserts. The finale of the Excursions is an American folk dance that takes the listener to a joyful rural celebration where violins, banjos and harmonicas accompany dancers’ rampageous stomping.
Barber’s intriguing work is performed by Petras Geniušas, the Lithuanian celebrity, a recipient of the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize.
PIANO: PETRAS GENIUŠAS