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Adagio for Strings, Op 11

composer
1938

 
Barber’s most enduring legacy is, of course, the Adagio from his string quartet Op 11. He had considerable difficulty in arriving at a shape for the quartet with which he was happy. He seemed though, to know immediately that the Adagio would work, writing in September 1936, “… just finished the slow movement of my quartet today—it is a knockout!”. Having met the composer some years before in Italy, it was Toscanini who asked Barber for a piece he might present at an NBC Symphony Orchestra broadcast to feature new American music. As well as composing the Essay for Orchestra Op 12 for Toscanini, Barber made this transcription of the quartet’s slow movement for full strings, and both it and the Essay received their first performances with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini’s baton on 5th November 1938. The Adagio’s huge popularity may have irked him (though probably not his bank manager!), considering the wide range of his output. In an interview with Allan Kozinn (High Fidelity, June 1981) Barber said: “Sometimes I get tired of hearing the Adagio for Strings. But I amuse myself during performances because I know there’s going to be a mistake somewhere. Happens everytime.”

from notes by Adam Chambers © 2011

Recordings

Organ Dreams, Vol. 2 - Ripon Cathedral
CDA67146
Walton & Barber: Violin Concertos
SIGCD238Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD238 track 9

Artists
ISRC
GB-LLH-11-23809
Duration
8'52
Recording date
12 March 2010
Recording venue
Malmö Opera and Music Theatre, Sweden
Recording producer
Tony Harrison
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Walton & Barber: Violin Concertos (SIGCD238)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: April 2011
    Download only
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