Kronos Quartet did a version of the Adagio that, as far as I’m concerned, is The Performance. It’s on their album Winter Was Hard.
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a video online of them performing it.
My objection to most renderings is that they have a tendency toward lushness — the only way I can think to describe it — whereas Kronos’ kept it very lean, almost severe. (Although I have to say Slatkin did a creditable job on this video.)
Thomas Schippers also did a good version with the NY Philharmonic, on the collection Barber: Adagio for Strings: Orchestral and Chamber Works, which also includes a performance by the Beaux Arts Quartet of the String Quartet, the middle movement of which was the original version of the Adagio .
That said, it’s a tremendously affecting piece of music.
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