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Tomaso ALBINONI (1671 - 1751): "Six Sonatas for Flute and Continuo Op. 6"

Ensemble Barocco Padovano Sans Souci

rec: April 24 - 25 & May 1, 1995, Padua, Cheisa della Nativitą della B.V. Maria ai Servi
Dynamic - DM8032 (R) (© 2012) (65'11")
Liner-notes: E
Cover & track-list

Sonata in C, op. 6,1; Sonata in g minor, op. 6,2; Sonata in a minor, op. 6,6; Sonata in D, op. 6,7; Sonata in e minor, op. 6,8; Sonata in G, op. 6,9

Source: Trattenimenti armonici per camera, op. 6, c1712

Mario Folena, transverse flute; Carlo Zanardi, cello; Terrell Stone, theorbo, guitar; Aldo Fiorentin, harpsichord

Tomaso Albinoni was one of the most respected composers of his time, despite being not a professional composer but rather a dilettante, as he called himself. The largest part of his oeuvre consists of music for the theatre. Unfortunately almost none of his compositions in this genre has been preserved complete. Most of his operas are lost; of others only a few arias have come down to us.

Therefore today he is mainly known for his instrumental music. Especially his concertos with parts for one or two oboes are quite popular and are regularly played at concerts and recorded. He also wrote a considerable number of sonatas for one or two violins and bc. Several of his collections of sonatas have been recorded. One of these are the twelve for violin and basso continuo which were printed as his op. 6 in Amsterdam around 1712 with the title Trattenimenti armonici per camera. The word trattenimento means 'entertainment' and indicates that these sonatas were intended for the growing market of amateur performers. The addition da camera suggests that these sonatas follow the model of the Corellian sonata da camera. It may then come as a surprise that the movements bear not the titles of dances, as was common in sonate da camera, but rather indications such as adagio or allegro as was usual in the sonata da chiesa. However, these are dances in disguise: many fast movements are in fact allemandes, courantes or gigues.

The title of this disc suggests that we have here six flute sonatas, but that is not quite correct. Albinoni didn't give any indication that his sonatas could be played on the transverse flute. That doesn't mean that he didn't approve of adapting these sonatas for other instruments. This was common practice and composers expected performers to adapt their sonatas for their own use, depending of the instruments which were at hand. In his liner-notes Mario Folena mentions that several sets of such adaptations are known from Albinoni's time. In this recording he didn't make use of any of these editions, though. He rather constructed his own arrangements. Such arrangements sometimes require transpositions to another key. In this recording all but one sonata are played in the original keys.

Obviously some of the effects Albinoni included in his sonatas are lost in these arrangements. That particularly concerns Albinoni's use of double- stopping. That is, for instance, the case in the fast movements from the Sonata No. 9. In his liner-notes to The Locatelli Trio's recording of the complete set (Hyperion, 1992) Michael Talbot writes about the Sonata No. 8: "[The] rasping violin chords in its second movement convey a mood of desperate urgency." That can't be conveyed in a performance with transverse flute. The passages of a contrapuntal character remain fully intact, though.

However, in these new clothes, as it were, these sonatas make a very good impression as well. Some of the features of the original scoring may have gone lost, the natural sensitivity and differentiation in colour and dynamics of the transverse flute fit them very well. Mario Folena is an excellent performer who plays with intelligence and stylistic awareness. He is supported by a strong basso continuo group which shows a good sense of the rhythmic pulse of these sonatas. The first allegro from the Sonata No. 6 is a particularly good example.

Even if you have a performance with violin in your collection, for instance the recording by The Locatelli Trio, this disc has much to offer and will give you a new and different look at these beautiful sonatas.

Johan van Veen (© 2013)

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