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Tomaso Giovanni ALBINONI (1671-1750)
Oboe and Violin Concertos Op.9 (circa. 1722)
Concerto for oboe in D minor Op.9 No.2
Concerto for two oboes in F major Op.9 No.3
Concerto for oboe in C major Op.9 No.5
Concerto for two oboes in G major Op.9 No.6
Concerto for violin in B flat major Op.9 No.1
Concerto for violin in F major Op.9 No.10
Concerto for oboe in B flat major Op.9 No.11
I Solisti Ventie, Claudio Scimone
Piero Toso (violin)
Pierre Pierlot (oboe 1)
Jacques Chambon (oboe 2 on tracks 4-6 & 10-12)
No recording information supplied ADD
WARNER CLASSICS APEX 0927 49020 2 [71:08]
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Very little of Albinoniís immense output of compositions has survived, unlike those of his better known contemporary Vivaldi. The two composers even lived and worked in close proximity in Venice. However, it is said that Albinoniís instrumental music, unlike that of Vivaldi, is almost a by-product of his operatic music, with long breathed and eminently singable lines which remind many commentators of operatic Ďbel cantoí. Albinoni was a most proficient singer and was fortunate to have a comfortable private income which allowed him to pursue a full time musical career, including the composition of over 50 operas.

On this Apex release seven of the twelve opus 9 concertos published in Amsterdam in 1722 are included, and they are indeed fine works. All the concertos are in the three movement fast, slow, fast, form that Albinoni was probably the first composer to use consistently in his concertos. Often accused of displaying a lack of harmonic finesse, these opus 9 concertos bear testament to Albinoniís melodic gifts together with a pronounced individuality which was most probably due to the relative insularity of his life.

The highlight of the disc is the haunting and meditative adagio from the popular oboe concerto No. 2, which I feel must have been the inspiration and model for the main theme from Geoffrey Burgonís 1980ís score to the TV drama Brideshead Revisited. In addition, the concerto No. 3 for double oboe is most appealing and proves to be a inventive work. In particular, the opening allegro is notable for the consistent flow of its musical line. For me, the concerto No. 1 for solo violin is the weakest and least memorable of all the concertos on this release, particularly when compared to those concertos for the oboe, which are clearly of a high melodic standard.

Pierre Pierlot, the oboe soloist, has a beautiful tone, and his playing is distinguished and easily conveys the spirit of the music. In addition, Jacques Chambon in the double oboe concertos and Piero Toso in the two violin concertos are expressive and fluent in their interpretations. Under the persuasive direction of Claudio Scimone the performance of the ensemble I Solisti Veneti invite admiration, displaying how assured they are in this repertoire.

The performances are naturally caught and mainly well recorded; however I would have preferred slightly more prominence in the bass line harmonies. The discís total timing of just over 71 minutes is generous but unfortunately Apex have provided sparse booklet notes and there is no information concerning the recording venue and dates. For the quality of the music, the standard of performance and the modest cost this disc will prove a welcome addition to any collection of late baroque music.

Michael Cookson

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