Albinoni: Sinfonie a Cinque, Op. 2

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WORKS: Sinfonie a Cinque, Op. 2
PERFORMER: Ensemble 415/Chiara Banchini (violin)


Was ever a composer quite so misrepresented? Albinoni is known primarily for an Adagio, (70 current recordings), which he didn’t actually write; most of his output is unknown – over 50 operas for instance; and these six charming Sonatas are new to the catalogue.

They are ‘Church’ sonatas, in four movements alternating slow-fast. They are cast in five parts – two violins, two violas and bass – with continuo, here colourfully shared between harpsichord, organ and theorbo. This rare density is fascinating, as a texture in its own right and also as a vehicle for much delightful contrapuntal ingenuity.

Many fast movements are fugal, and reward attentive listening as the parts enter further and further down the ensemble until almost hidden by the counterpoint around them. The bass often enters a little later than the previous instruments, building up expectation all the more. The finale of No. 3 is particularly witty as the opening fugue subject is shared between pairs of instruments, dialoguing an octave apart.


The instrumentalists of Ensemble 415 could hardly present these better. Their intimate under-playing creates a sense of chamber music which we’re privileged to overhear, in the warmly enveloping acoustic of a Parisian church, its reverberation superbly managed in the recording. Unreservedly commended. George Pratt