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Tomaso ALBINONI (1671 - 1751): Concerti a cinque op. 10

Harmonices Mundi
Dir: Claudio Astronio

rec: Sept 6 - 8, 2004, Dobbiaco, Centro Convegni Grand Hotel (Sala Gustav Mahler)
Arts - 47747-8 (© 2009) (72'12")

Concerto No 1 in B flat, op. 10,1; Concerto No 2 in g minor, op. 10,2; Concerto No 4 in G, op. 10,4; Concerto No 5 in A, op. 10,5; Concerto No 7 in F, op. 10,7; Concerto No 8 in g minor, op. 10,8; Concerto No 9 in C, op. 10,9; Concerto No 11 in c minor, op. 10,11;

Tomaso Albinoni hasn't fared badly on disc as several of his collections of instrumental musis have been recorded. But on the concert platform his music is still seldom performed. During about 30 years of attending concerts with early music I have never heard anything of his music, as far as I can remember.

That is rather strange as he wrote very fine music. It is often signalled - also in the programme notes of this disc - that he had the ability to write very good melodies which immediately attract. Some of them now and then show up in movies and commercials - obviously because they are thought to appeal to a wide public.

That isn't any different in this collection of 12 concertos opus 10 from which Harmonices Mundi has recorded eight. All concertos are in three movements, and this shows that Vivaldi wasn't the only composer to use this form. Although these concertos bear some traces of the concerto grosso they don't strictly adhere to this principle. There is no concertino, but there are episodes in which the ensemble is reduced, and the musical material is played by two violins.

These concertos are written in five parts - not, as was common practice in the 17th century, with two viola parts, but with three violins, viola, cello and bc. The concertos have a part which is called violino di concerti but it mostly moves with the first violin. Only one concerto has a truly solo part, the Concerto No 8 in g minor. In particular the largo is of great beauty. Some other slow movements contain strong harmonic tension between the violins, as in the Concerto No 9 in C and the Concerto No 11 in c minor.

The latter concerto is especially interesting as it contains several references to the Spanish musical idiom, like an imitation of the plucked strings and of strummed chords of the guitar and even flamenco rhythms. This can be explained from the dedication of this set to Don Luca Fernando Patiño, marquis of Castellar.

Harmonices Mundi is not one of Italy's most renowned baroque orchestras. There are some rough edges in its playing, and the overall sound is less polished than one is used to hear from more famous ensembles. But the playing is vidid and energetic, and much attention is given to the rhythmic pulse, which results in jaunty and dance-like performances. The execution of the violin solo in Concerto No 8 is excellent.

Considering the quality of Albinoni's music and the overall good interpretations this disc can be recommended without reservation.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

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