Undoubtedly, Barber's concerto is one of the greatest of the 20th century. In my Critical Notes Series, I typically look at misprints and textual variants. But the solo part of Barber's concerto was proofread with a great amount of accuracy. The basic differences are enharmonic spellings, beaming, and a couple of slur placements. However, I would like to discuss the technical aspect of a few spots in the solo part.
The first passage I would like to address is poorly notated in the solo part. The passage below is from the first movement, 3rd-9th bars of #18 (pardon my well-loved part).
The harmonic signs over the F#'s look confusing to me, especially right next to very clearly notated harmonics. Just as a side note, in the holograph manuscript, 6-7 after #18 are penciled in, and the harmonic symbols (0) above the F#'s are penciled in. Here is what Barber has in the orchestra score:
In the orchestra score, the concert pitch is notated for all of the harmonic notes. That's helpful! Here is what it looks like when the harmonics are notated properly for cello:
This is definitely playable. Why not notate it like this? The cello is in the background anyway. Here is a simpler version if you don't want to stretch the lower F#:
You will notice that some of the notes were shifted up an octave. This is the solution that I preferred the last time I played this piece. You can always play this passage without harmonics but flautando as printed in the orchestra score. At least you'll know that you are playing the intended pitches. What is your favorite solution?
Another awkward spot is the pizz. glissando at 2 bars before #12 in the first movement (bass clef).
How do you keep the tied note going for 3 beats? You can play the E with your 2nd finger; it will get you halfway there. Yo-Yo Ma plays the long note arco. That's how I've played it in the past. Here is Nelsova's solution (restriking the top 2 notes before sliding up):
There are also a few passages where both Nelsova and Garbousova cut out the lower voice of double-stop passages, for example in the first movement before #27 and the finale at #34, among others. Here is Nelsova's simplification of the first movement passage at #29:
Another odd spot is in the first movement, 3rd-4th bars of #25. This harmony is a D quintal harmony: D-A-E-B. The cellos and basses move from the D pedal (bars 3-4) to a C pedal (bars 5-6). The solo cello doubles this motion:
The G sounds wrong to me, but I know that many cellists since the Nelsova recording have played the printed D as a G. Let's not copy Nelsova's other bloopers...