A veritable feast of Romantic string music! Edward Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for Strings, Op. 47, was composed in 1905 and scored for string quartet and string orchestra. Elgar composed it to show off the players’ virtuosity, particularly the tremendous virtuoso-technicalities within the violin parts. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, also known as the Tallis Fantasia, was first performed in 1910 and is one of the most enduring of the composer’s works. It is based on a tune by the 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis, which Ralph Vaughan Williams had come across while editing the English Hymnal, published in 1906.
Giuseppe Verdi’s String Quartet in E minor was written in the spring of 1873 during a production of Aida in Naples. It is the only surviving chamber music work in Verdi’s catalogue. In truth, it is a new kind of Verdi. Instead of the huge musical structures of the operas, expressive and often eloquent, we hear the repetition and manipulation of reduced thematic and rhythmic cells, reminding us of Beethoven’s late quartets. The work is presented in a scoring for full string orchestra, entitled “symphony” by Kevin Mallon.
Barber’s Adagio for Strings is arguably his best- known work, arranged for string orchestra from the second movement of his String Quartet, Op. 11. Barber finished the arrangement in 1936, the same year that he wrote the quartet. It was performed for the first time on November 5, 1938, by Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a radio broadcast. The Adagio, builds from a simple theme into long phrases full of pathos and cathartic passion.