Notes and Editorial Reviews
All nine concertos bristle with dynamism and unbounded energy.
Concerti a 5,
Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12
Simon Standage, cond; Collegium Musicum 90 (period instruments)
CHANDOS CHAN 0769 (69:15)
Tomaso Albinoni, the “Venetian Dilettante” (so-called because he was not a professional
musician), was celebrated by his contemporaries for his 50 or so operas and theatrical works, but is best remembered now for five sets of concertos, including the first-ever oboe concertos. The op. 10 concertos, Albinoni’s last, were composed in the mid 1730s but “lost” until the 1960s, and are still relatively unfamiliar. Typically for Albinoni, all are scored for five parts (
but without oboes), employ a fast-slow-fast, three-movement pattern, and—unlike the concertos of such popular contemporaries as Vivaldi or Tartini—rarely set a soloist apart from the ensemble. Such unvarying structural guidelines foster the perception of monotony, but Albinoni, like Vivaldi, was inventive enough to avoid that trap. Just one striking example is the 11th concerto, with its representations of the flamenco, an acknowledgment of the set’s Spanish patron, who underwrote its publication. Despite Albinoni’s inherent conservatism, evidence of evolving musical fashions are evident in his op. 10 collection, making it a proper culmination of his particular legacy.
Albinoni’s concertos have persuasive advocates in Simon Standage and Collegium Musicum 90, which he founded in 1990 (with Richard Hickox). Standage has led his ensemble in a number of Albinoni recordings for Chandos, including the complete oboe concertos with Anthony Robson. Their readings of these op. 10 concertos are enthusiastic, stylish, and thoroughly engrossing. If there’s a disappointment with this release, it’s that four of the concertos are absent. But that’s the consequence of the technology, not of the performers. Would that all could have been present and accounted for. Warmly recommended.
FANFARE: George Chien
This is a fine recording of some very fine music. It should go some way towards restoring the reputation of Tomaso Albinoni.
A slightly older contemporary of Vivaldi, and also a native of Venice, Albinoni never scaled the same heights of fame as the Red Priest, either during his lifetime or afterwards. He never held posts at any of Venice’s churches or ospedali, and lived mainly off the proceeds of his father’s paper business. His final statement on the concerto form, the Op. 10 collection of 1735-36, was financed by (and dedicated to) the Marquis of Castelar, Don Luca Fernando Patino, hence this CD’s title, ‘Homage to a Spanish Grandee’.
Other than the dedication, there is very little that is recognisably ‘Spanish’ about the eight concertos featured, except in the first movement of No. 11 [track 19], with its foot-stamping flamenco-inspired rhythms. As the sleeve-notes suggest, the Op. 10 concertos are something of an odd set when compared to Albinoni’s more celebrated Op. 9 collection of 1722. Simple and unfussy in style, they are noticeably out of step with the contemporary concertos of Vivaldi, Locatelli and Tartini by omitting show-stopping solos for the principal violin. In fact, only the eighth and twelfth concertos contain more than occasional solo writing for violin.
But this hardly matters to modern listeners, and even makes a refreshing change. All nine concertos on the recording bristle with dynamism. The outer works – concertos 1 and 12 – frame the collection with unbounded energy. No. 7 is reminiscent of the comic operatic intermezzi which began to emerge in Venice at this time. There are quieter, reflective moments too. The central movement of the fifth concerto is unusually marked ‘sempre piano’ and evokes the wave-lapping motions of Venetian gondolas.
The playing of Collegium Musicum 90 on strictly authentic instruments is practically flawless. Simon Standage does a good job of directing the orchestra without attempting to hog the limelight as principal violinist. The sound quality, too, is first rate, with a clear but warm tone, and each instrument clearly audible throughout.
-- John-Pierre Joyce, MusicWeb International
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