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Barber's Adagio

Samuel Barber , Charles Munch , Boston Symphony Orchestra , Smithsonian Chamber Players , James Galway , The Canadian Brass , The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge , Richard Stoltzman , Tokyo String Quartet , David Pizarro Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Audio CD, 1997 $9.00  
Audio Cassette, 1997 --  

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Barber's Adagio + Agnus Dei: Music of Inner Harmony
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Product Details

  • Performer: James Galway, The Canadian Brass, The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, Richard Stoltzman, Tokyo String Quartet, et al.
  • Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra, Smithsonian Chamber Players
  • Conductor: Charles Munch
  • Composer: Samuel Barber
  • Audio CD (May 20, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000003G8N
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,561 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11 - Strings Of The Boston Symphony Orchestra
2. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11 - James Galway
3. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11 - The Canadian Brass
4. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11: Angus Dei - The Choir Of Trinity College, Cambridge
5. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11 - Richard Stoltzman
6. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11 - Tokyo String Quartet
7. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11 - David Pizarro
8. Adagio For Strings, Op. 11 - Smithsonian Chamber Players

Editorial Reviews

Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings is a powerful piece, packed with emotional intensity yet also extraordinarily listenable--and popular. Here, Barber's short masterwork of simplicity and resonance gets eight treatments, from those he approved of (Charles Munch and the strings of the Boston Symphony; the Tokyo String Quartet; organist David Pizarro; and the Smithsonian Chamber Players) to new interpretations that don't quite match with the older renditions.

James Galway's new flute-and-synthesizer reading is a bit anemic, though thankfully not showy, and the Canadian Brass's arrangement is likewise tempered and calm, even if not very close to having significant bite. Richard Stoltzman and the Kalman Clarinet Choir probably do the best job of taking Barber to new places; the woody tones mesh almost polyphonically. Also included is the Choir of Trinity College's reading of Agnus Dei, Barber's choral setting of the Adagio, a distillation that might well be the high point of the CD. For the most stunning rendition of the Adagio, however, listeners should really hear the Thomas Schippers version. --Andrew Bartlett

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great intro to Barbers'Adagio February 17, 2000
Format:Audio CD
I found this recording while continuing my search for my all-time favorite version of the Adagio.While nothing on this album approaches the perfection of my favorite recording,it is a wonderful collection of the various treatments of Barbers'work.I find the vocal ensemble to be the most satisfying but found that,really the appeal of this cd is the movement from one version to the next.
I have listened to as many versions as I can find of the Adagio and I finally found the version that is Perfect in all aspects of the piece:the 1957 recording by the Philadelphia Orchestra,conducted by Eugene Ormandy.It can only be found on a Sony release entitled"American Masterpieces".It is the definitive recording in my opinion,and I am a hardcore fan of the Adagio!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passionate yearning with a touch of hope November 1, 2004
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
What a very interesting CD! Barber's Adagio is one of the best-loved pieces of classical music. It embodies passionate yearning, building to an extraordinary climax, and coming back to down to a peaceful resolution. When Barber first created this music as the adagio movement to a string quartet, it took the classical world by storm, and he later created a full orchestral version and a choral version. Setting the choral version to the words of the Agnus Dei: "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us" was an inspired choice. What could better express the pleading, emotional intensity of this music?

Putting together 8 versions of this piece was a very interesting idea. It made me think of a great chef designing a meal in which all of the courses are soup! Each dish may be wonderful, but you'd better like soup! Fortunately, I love soup--er, Barber's Adagio--so it works for me.

Of course, some versions of the dish work better than others. The full orchestal version by the Boston Symphony Orchestra expresses the full emotional power of the piece, and I loved it.

For me, the James Galway flute (with synthesizer?) version just didn't work. While I love James Galway and the flute, the real power of the piece comes from the blend of parts. By separating a solo line for the flute from the rest of the musical lines, the piece just sounds thin and incomplete, with the full complexity of the piece missing.

The Canadian Brass version worked for me because all of the brass blended to provide a full, rich sound.

My favorite version was the choral Agnus Dei by the Choir of Trinity College, a very moving performance with full emotional intensity.

A very interesting version was the Kalmen Opperman Clarinet Choir.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wow..." August 22, 2002
By Alan K.
Format:Audio CD
What more can one say about Barber's Adagio for Strings? Indeed, how much could one say about it before? I cannot find an appropriate way to describe this music. It is as if all of the holiness of Heaven, or of the sacred 'om,' was compressed into a song lasting nary 8 or 9 minutes. It is melancholic without seeming at all sad, like dying without grief or despair. It brings forth tears stemming from an emotion that, like the song itself, defies description.
All that I just wrote is merely language; the only way to know anything about Adagio is to hear it for yourself. This CD holds some of the finest recordings of Barber's famous work. Start off with the first track, and hear the song using its most gut-wrenching arrangement: the string orchestra. Listen to the track in its entirety; you will reach emotional peaks that can't be found with any other song. Then, listen to the choral arrangement. This track alone is worth twice the cost of the CD. I don't think I've ever felt more serene than when I first heard Agnus Dei. It is an absolutely haunting and breathtaking recording which will stay floating in your mind long after you've turned off your CD player.
Even if every other recording on this collection was putrid slop, it would get 5 stars. Luckily, the rest of the tracks are still amazing. I was particularily taken by the Canadian Brass version, though this may be due in part to my bias toward brass ensembles. The string quartet also pulls through with another astounding recording of Adagio. The arrangement for organ had an undeniable human touch to it. It was different, but not really any worse than the others. However, I'd have to say that I wasn't much impressed by the flute & synth version.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The song makes the CD August 14, 2000
Format:Audio CD
The Barber Adagio is not supposed to be so incredibly short. Some of the best recordings (including the Baltimore Symphony and the Bernstein) last 10 minutes in length! Unfortunately some of the groups on this CD just tear through the piece (4:52?!) The Boston Symphony Orchestra does a nice job with the piece but they still play it too quickly (just under 8 minutes). This piece requires such control to play and, unfortunately, most of the groups that perform it on this CD do not display that. The choral version of this piece is truly magnificent but listeners would do better to get the CD "Agnus Dei" (Gregorio Allegri) which includes a beautiful version of the Barber along with a wonderful collection of other songs. For an instrumental version of the Barber listeners need go no further than the Thomas Schippers version which is perhaps the most beautiful recording of the piece ever made.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tears
I always cry when I hear this piece. This is a beautiful rendition of a hauntingly beautiful piece. Highly recommend both product and seller.
Published 1 month ago by Scorched Earth
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how you earn the RCA Victor GOLD SEAL.
This CD has eight tracks. Although the total play time is only 55 minutes and 47 seconds (too short in my opinion), the musicians did a great job performing. Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars We've all heard it
Remember that tune playing during the movie 'Platoon'? Quiet, sad but lovely. I finally had to purchase it for myself.
Published 1 month ago by Jeanne Master
5.0 out of 5 stars For those of you like the composer Samuel Barber
As the general manager of my local classical music station recommended this CD to me, so I recommend this classic to you. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Joseph Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful collection of performances of wonderful music
Barber's Adagio is the kind of emotionally packed music that grabs one's heart, and each of these performances offers something different and special. Read more
Published on July 22, 2010 by D. Eckman
4.0 out of 5 stars Classical and Beautiful
I have heard this music many times and could not find out a name until I heard it being played on Yahoo Radio and was able to see a name, etc. Read more
Published on March 16, 2010 by ggm
5.0 out of 5 stars How Do I Love Thee?
If you think you really love the Barber Adagio, here is the CD that will put your devotion to the test. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Read more
Published on July 15, 2009 by Karl W. Nehring
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this CD
This CD (this is the 2nd copy I have bought of this CD, for a friend) has helped me through some rough times, including the death of my 4-year-old cat several years ago. Read more
Published on May 4, 2009 by C. Zelena
5.0 out of 5 stars What I've been looking for!
I have loved this piece of music for ages and one day heard that the Trinity Choir did it...I wanted to collect all the different Arrangements but they wud have to been bought in... Read more
Published on September 12, 2007 by E. Coady
5.0 out of 5 stars Familiarity Breeding Contentment
If there is a single composition by which American composer Samuel Barber (1910 - 1981) is universally known, it is the Adagio for Strings, arranged, at Toscanini's request, in... Read more
Published on April 16, 2007 by Eric Koenig
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