Gerald Barry: In the Asylum

(b. 1952)

mode 332

Fidelio Trio


mode 332  Gerald Barry: In the Asylum — works for solo piano, violin & piano, through piano quintet. Fidelio Trio, Gerald Barry

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In the Asylum
  1. 1998 for violin & piano (1998) 21:59 •

  2. All day at home busy with my own affairs
    for piano (2015) 2:56 •
    Gerald Barry, piano

  3. Midday for violin & piano (2014) 8:00 •

  4. Le Vieux Sourd for piano (2008) 4:43 •

    Baroness von Ritkart for violin and piano
    (2010) 2:35 •

  5. 1 – Clever, noble, but not talented 0:50
  6. 2 – Talented, noble, but not clever 0:52
  7. 3 – Talented, clever, but not noble 0:51
  8. In the Asylum for piano trio (2000) 12:15

  9. Ø for piano quartet (1979) 7:12 •
    Rose Redgrave, viola

10.Triorchic Blues for piano trio (1990) 4:04 •

• First recording

Fidelio Trio:

Darragh Morgan, violin. Mary Dullea, piano. Adi Tal, cello.

This album collects works for piano through piano quartet by Irish composer Gerald Barry. All, except for In the Asylum are first recordings.

Barry has had a long association with Darragh Morgan and for years both have wanted to record these works with the Fidelio Trio.

The music moves from the 1979 Rothko inspired Ø for piano quartet to the longest piece on the album, 1998, for violin and piano. Ø is as severely contained as 1998 is explosive.

In general the music is more concerned with pure material than color, and so may be played on any instruments.

The solo piano piece All day at home busy with my own affairs appears calmly at one with being alone, but is also used frenziedly in Barry’s opera Salome. All is not quiet on the home front.

There is the hallucinogenic piano trio, In The Asylum, the Le Vieux Sourd setting of Auld Lang Syne which would work perfectly on pub/bar pianos, Midday for violin and piano, a meditation on landscape, the melancholy Baroness von Ritkart, and the testicular whirlwind of Triorchic Blues.

Composer supervised performances by the Fidelio Trio (Darragh Morgan, Mary Dullea and Adi Tal) with guest artists Gerald Barry (piano on All day at home busy with my own affairs) and joined by Rose Redgrave (viola on Ø).

The very personal liner notes are by the composer.

Gerald Barry was born in Ireland in 1952. His operas have been staged at Covent Garden, Berliner Festwochen, Lincoln Center, Théâtre de L’Athenée Paris, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and many others. His most recent work, From The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant for Double Bass and Orchestra, was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic in June 2022. His new opera, Salome, will be premiered in 2024.

The Fidelio Trio have received numerous Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice and were shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society Award. They have appeared at Wigmore Hall, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Casa da Musica (Porto), Phillips Collection (Washington DC), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Beijing Modern Music Festival. With a discography of over 30 releases they also often perform Beethoven Triple Concerto, recen tly with National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and are Artistic Directors of their annual Winter Chamber Music Festival at Dublin City University.


Gerald Barry
In the Asylum; 1998; All Day at Home Busy with My Own Affairs; Midday; Le vieux sourd; Baroness von Ritkart; Ø; Triorchic Blues
Gerald Barry, Mary Dullea (piano); Fidelio Trio
Mode MOD-CD-332   64:24 mins


Born in Ireland in 1952, Gerald Barry is a composer of singular imagination. He is perhaps best known for his operas, and his music is at once playful yet unyielding, baffling yet enlightening. This fine recording from the Fidelio Trio showcases some of Barry’s lesser-known chamber music and is a rare and strange delight.

The works featured cover some 36 years of composition, including Ø for piano quartet from 1979. The piece was originally scored for two pianos playing the same score simultaneously: ‘an impossibly vulnerable task’, notes the composer. This version for piano quartet features the ensemble playing the same simple, questing melody in unison throughout – and this delicate performance (the trio here joined by Rose Redgrave on viola) draws a compelling sense of tension and a curious melancholy from the task. Barry’s idiosyncratic wit is neatly conveyed in his Baroness von Ritkart for violin and piano (performed with deadpan restraint here), where its three brief movements (each lasts less than a minute) are titled: ‘1 – Clever, noble, but not talented; 2 – Talented, noble, but not clever; 3 – Talented, clever, but not noble’. Other highlights include the tightly-woven In the Asylum for piano trio and Midday for violin and piano, which explores with serene insistence a series of tapping motifs (and also exists, according to the composer, in ‘a loud version for eight horns and two wind machines’).

Beautifully performed throughout and featuring Barry’s own extraordinarily enjoyable sleeve notes, this is a terrific album which offers welcome insight into a composer of daring and integrity.

— Kate Wakeling, Classical, September 9, 2022,


March, Daniel. / Speed and slowness in the music of Gerald Barry. In: Contemporary Music Review. 2014 ; Vol. 33, No. 4. pp. 373-389.

How music engenders a sense of speed remains notoriously elusive, with theories of musical time sometimes putting forward the idea of an ongoing motion which underlies perceived processes of change. Drawing upon the suggestion that a number of such processes can be understood without reference to this sense of movement, the current discussion proposes that the concept of ‘quickness’, as formulated by Italo Calvino, forms a useful interpretative lever through which to approach a number of compositions by Irish composer, Gerald Barry. Examinations of Bob, 1998 and In the Asylum suggest ways in which Barry’s approach to musical material plays with perceptions of speed and slowness, and how his work represents a number of different solutions to the problem of creating convincing musical forms.