Various Artists

Essential Adagios

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There are no surprises in EMI's Essential Adagios, for almost all of the famous slow pieces and movements from larger works that have become immensely popular over the years are included, and all of the selections are performed by first-rate musicians, long associated with this distinguished label. Lest the great fame of these pieces be lost on the inexperienced, EMI has taken pains to list many of the well-known films that have featured them in their soundtracks, so absolute beginners might be misled into thinking they were specifically composed for that purpose. However, the danger of over-familiarity is more likely to trouble listeners, for anyone who has purchased at least one classical relaxation CD or a greatest-hits compilation is likely to have encountered some, if not most, of these selections. Pachelbel's Canon (sans Gigue), Albinoni's spurious Adagio, Bach's Air on the G string, Barber's Adagio for strings, the first movement from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Fauré's Pavane, and the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5 are all ubiquitous, and their inclusion with other chestnuts only serves to make this unimaginative set appeal to the most casual and incurious listener. Yet this double-disc set is almost ideal for use as background music, and anyone who needs a long-playing album for quiet activities or entertaining will probably find this mellow program quite suitable.

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