Albinoni – Homage to a Spanish Grandee

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COMPOSERS: Albinoni
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Concertos from Op. 10 (Concerti a cinque)
PERFORMER: Collegium Musicum 90/ Simon Standage
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0769

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The 12 concertos of Op. 10, composed 1735-36, came to light only after scholars had already decided what characterised Tomaso Albinoni’s music and described his Op. 9, thought to be his last concertos, as (in the words of scholar Arthur Hutchings) ‘simply his longest, his most highly organised and his best’. Which has left the Op. 10 set, unearthed in the 1960s, strangely neglected works, recorded only twice and not all available in modern print. Their dedication and context are explained in generous liner-notes, but their musical character is indeed strangely elusive. 

Only two of the eight recorded here feature solo violin – No. 12 is positively Vivaldian in style and structure – nor do they contrast few strings with many, as do the concertos of Corelli and Handel. But their purposeful harmony and the lyrical melodies of slow movements are highly attractive.

Particularly memorable is the second movement of No. 5, a warm violin solo over a gently undulating accompaniment; at the other extreme are huge leaps and crunching chords opening No. 11. Unusually, cello rather than violin features as a soloist in No. 3. 

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Simon Standage varies his forces, sometimes one-to-a-part, sometimes two (with its attendant intonation challenges). The playing is fresh and lively, if occasionally the accompaniment tends to mark time rather than stepping ardently forward – the end of No. 12 contrasts urgent violins with stolid bass. George Pratt