Albinoni: 6 Sonate da chiesa, Op. 4; 12 Trattenimenti armonici per camera, Op. 6

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COMPOSERS: Albinoni
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: 6 Sonate da chiesa, Op. 4; 12 Trattenimenti armonici per camera, Op. 6
PERFORMER: Locatelli Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66831/2 DDD
It is ironic that the one piece to have brought Albinoni lasting fame – the Adagio for organ and strings – was actually constructed this century by an Italian musicologist from a fragment of music that itself is spurious. So, if the Venetian maestro’s claim to fame today is rather dubious, in his own time it lay rather more securely in his 80 or so stage works. His undeniable gift as a melodist also permeates these sonatas for violin and continuo, but what Albinoni so patently lacks is harmonic variety and contrapuntal inventiveness.

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Violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch is a sympathetic interpreter, and she plays with a constantly sweet tone, adorning the solo line with subtle but affecting ornamentation. To maximise potential sales of his music, Albinoni indicated that the sonatas could be played either with cello or with keyboard continuo. In keeping with modern practice, the Locatelli Trio opts for both continuo instruments (cello and keyboard), varying the sonority by using an organ for Op. 4 and harpsichord for Op. 6. No one could complain that the discs are not generously filled, but for my taste, there are simply too many courses of the same dish, and Albinoni’s rather limited style soon begins to pall. Kate Bolton