Albinoni: 12 Concertos, Op. 9

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Albinoni
LABELS: Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre
WORKS: 12 Concertos, Op. 9
PERFORMER: Andrew Manze (violin), Frank de Bruine, Alfredo Bernardini (oboe); Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 458 129-2
Albinoni was at the height of his imaginative powers when, in 1722, he published his penultimate set of concertos. They are grouped in sets of three – violin solo, oboe solo and two oboes respectively with great variety of both structure and colour. In X1 the solo violin creeps unannounced from within the opening strings; two finales open with fugual textures, collapsing to simple harmony as the soloist enters. VII2 has pizzicato bass and no harpsichord; oboes bray like hunting horns in III1, leap trumpet-like in XII. Albinoni’s alluringly purposeful harmony, side-stepped cadences, brief repetitions which paradoxically generate yet more urgency in the musical flow , create the Venetian concerto at its irresistable best.

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The performance here matches the composer’s inspiration. The Academy strings, finely focused, articulate lightly. Manze brings to the four violin concertos remarkabe freshness and spontaneity, and considerable virtuosity in the flashing off-the-string passages, IV1 for instance. The oboists sound generally more considered, their tone refined but never to the point of losing their individual distinctiveness, nicely emphasised by their stereo interplay in the double concertos.

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Excellent recording, with soloists distinguished by timbre rather than by artificial separation, contributes to making this an outstanding issue. George Pratt