Have you? Have you ever felt deep in your bones to be right, but knew it was wrong? Like knowing in your heart that there is a sunrise to the west, but running west will never present you with one. Adagio in G minor leaves you feeling just like that. Several oddities leap out and nothing quite ties together in a way that can be considered logical.
Written for strings and the organ, and often referred to as ‘Albinoni’s Adagio’, it was published in 1958. This alone should raise some eyebrows. You see, Tomaso Albinoni (the person who the work is attributed to) was an 18th century baroque composer The piece was actually written by the 20th century musicologist Remo Giazotto. He claims discovery of a manuscript fragment from Albinoni, but never produced said script, nor has it surfaced since his death in 1998.
Furthermore, Albinoni was a true baroque composer with all the grandeur and elaboration that this would lead one to imagine, and was one of the first to feature an oboe as a solo instrument. The thought of him composing a quaint, conservative chamber piece for strings, violin, and the organ just doesn’t quite hit the mark either. Combine this with the disjointed, almost searching feel of the piece itself and nothing really fits together it seems.
You see, an adagio (literally ‘at ease’ in italian) by definition means languid and graceful. In ballet, the term is used for a lead female dancer and her male counterpart, requiring slow and intricate movements. Great skill and total trust in each other create a synergy that goes beyond two people dancing together, giving one the feeling that things are … complete. The Black Swan Pas de deux from Swan Lake is an example of a true adagio. Andre Rieu performing Romantic Paradise in Tuscany is another (Ok thats not fair cause Andre Rieu performing anything ANYWHERE or listening to ANYONE performing in Cortona would have to be at the bottom of the bucket lists which means you are close to being ready to die – All thats left would be hearing Andrea Bocelli at Red Rocks – the voice of GOD pouring down a mountainside!) but I digress.
This heart wrenching piece has the feel of an endless journey, one you know has to end but never will, and a plea for completeness and understanding for something that can’t be comprehended. True pain and anguish are juxtaposed with a real sense of faith and a longing for more .. but in the end, always hope, no matter what.
None of this comes together, nor fits into any picture I can honestly come up with, maybe that’s the ultimate meaning behind it all? MAYBE we have to understand we are not complete and will never be, before we can be, well … complete?
This deserves further thought and contemplation. I think I need to load up the boat and set sail due west and find me a sunrise! Check it out for yourself and come up with your own opinion. Maybe even let me know what you think if you can find me.