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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751)

Twelve Concertos, Op. 10 (1736)
Giuliano Carmignola, Piero Toso (violins) I Solisti Veneti/Claudio Scimone
Rec. September 1979, Villa Simes, Piazzola sul Brenta, Italy. DDD

WARNER APEX 61136-2 (Nos. 1-6) [52.16]

WARNER APEX 61296-2 (Nos. 7-12) [55.50]



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Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751) was a Venetian composer of the same generation as Vivaldi, so it is inevitable that he has been somewhat overshadowed by his illustrious contemporary.

This pair of discs – available either singly or together - contains the collection of twelve concertos published as Albinoni’s Op. 10 in 1736. By then he was both accomplished and experienced, of course, and both these attributes can be experienced by the listener throughout these pieces. The standards set by Scimone’s Solisti Veneti are consistently strong. And the original Erato recordings have gained extra bloom and resonance in the new CD format.

If there is a criticism to be made it is the hardly surprising one that some of the performing practices and choices are of a later generation than the most informed recent performances of baroque music have achieved. But that is not in itself a criticism, since not everyone prefers gut strings to steel, for example.

Scimone was always a master craftsman in moulding his slow movements, in balancing the complexities of texture that informed so much Venetian music of the period. It is in the fast outer movements that these musicians are heard to sometimes spectacular effect, such as the finales of the G minor Concerto No. 2 and the D major Concerto No. 6.

There are differing approaches to the medium within the collection. Four of the concertos (Nos. 6. 8, 10 and 12, are solo violin concertos which afford Piero Toso and Giuliano Carmignolo abundant opportunities to display their considerable talents. Three more are concerti grossi with the conventional concertino grouping of two violin and cello, Nos. 2, 3 and 4. The remainder are examples of the concerto ripieno style: concertos without soloist(s) that rely on the contrasts brought within the part-writing. Albinoni was a past-master of this art, as his more famous set of concerti a Cinque reminds us.

For all the strengths of composer and music, these concertos are better heard in small groups or even individually. Albinoni was hugely talented but not a great composer of the calibre of Bach or Handel, and individual genius does not lurk on every page.

The strengths of these performances can be found in their rich and pleasing string tone, and their abundant rhythmic vitality. The warmly rounded acoustic does rob the ensemble playing of some detail in the more contrapuntal passages, but the music always sounds well.

Terry Barfoot



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