Albinoni: Six Cantatas from Op. 4

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COMPOSERS: Albinoni
LABELS: Etcetera
WORKS: Six Cantatas from Op. 4
PERFORMER: Barbara Schlick (soprano), Roderick Shaw (harpsichord), Nicolas Selo (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: KTC 1181
Chamber cantatas by Albinoni provide a welcome change in diet from the much favoured oboe concertos, and the saccharine 20th-century ‘Adagio’ for which he should not have to take the blame. Almost 50 cantatas are known, of which those collected on this disc belong to a set of 12 published in 1702 as the composer’s Op. 4. Six of these, for soprano and continuo, are sung by Barbara Schlick. The remaining six, for alto, are not included. According to the custom and taste of the time, the texts are pastorally inspired, and set in Arcadia, Pan’s territory, and mythical birthplace of Jupiter. They are not especially interesting in themselves but Albinoni’s word-setting is sufficiently skilful to sustain interest for the listener at almost every turn.

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Each cantata is concerned with the emotions of lovers who, for one reason or another, have been abandoned. Wrath, cruelty, longing, fate and destiny determine the mood of the music, and Albinoni as often as not charms us with rhythms and melodies which vividly reflect the engendered emotions. Schlick sings with a pleasing warmth of expression, though sounds a little strained on occasion in recitative. Her diction is pretty clear and her intonation mainly reliable. Roderick Shaw (harpsichord) and Nicolas Selo (cello) provide discreet and sympathetic support throughout. Nicholas Anderson