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Track(s) taken from CDA66219

Agnus Dei

tune from Barber's String Quartet, 1936; arranged 1967 for choir
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Corydon Singers, Matthew Best (conductor)
Recording details: May 1986
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: August 1987
Total duration: 9 minutes 50 seconds

Cover artwork: The raising of Lazarus.
Romanesque sculpture from Chichester Cathedral, Sussex, England

Other recordings available for download

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
The Cambridge Singers, John Rutter (conductor)
Dunedin Consort, Ben Parry (conductor)
Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks (conductor)


'An imaginative and enterprising programme, extremely well sung and recorded' (Gramophone)

'An exquisite disc. Indispensable' (Acoustic Sounds Catalog, USA)
The time bomb of Barber’s melancholy—set to darken his later years in depressive alcoholism—would not have obviously resided alongside his privileged upbringing, good looks, precocious talent and early establishment of his lifelong relationship with fellow composer Gian Carlo Menotti. But it was already sufficiently present to produce, at the age of twenty-six, a string quartet movement of the deepest sadness, an Adagio that in its string orchestral version has become the unofficial national anthem of mourning in the United States, far-outstripping any other piece in a 2004 BBC Radio 4 poll for the ‘saddest music in the world’. Not only has it been the most successful, even improving, of transfers from string quartet to string orchestra; Barber’s own choral arrangement of 1967, tracking the sinuous, stepwise string lines to the words of the Agnus Dei, works superbly too. The melodic contours fit like a glove for voices, unlike similar, more recent attempts to choral-ize the more intrinsically instrumental lines of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ with the Lux aeterna and Requiem aeternam texts.

from notes by Meurig Bowen © 2015

Other albums featuring this work

American Polyphony
Studio Master: CDA67929Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Copland: In the beginning; Barber: Agnus Dei
CKD117Download only
Images of Christ
COLCD124Download only
Naked Byrd, Vol. 2
SIGCD235Download only
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