Tomaso Albinoni was a composer who was different from most of his
colleagues in presenting himself as a dilettante
didn't prevent him from being highly appreciated, not only in Italy
but also abroad. His music has been found in many locations across Europe.
There are various pirated editions of his works and collections with sonatas
claimed to be from his pen. Their authenticity is highly questionable but
their quantity bears further witness to his status.
The largest part of his output comprises vocal music, in particular
operas. He composed more than eighty of these most of which are lost.
Today his vocal works are hardly ever performed. His instrumental music
fares much better: the catalogue lists many recordings of his chamber
music and concertos.
The present disc includes the twelve sonatas for violin and bc op. 6.
These were printed in Amsterdam around 1712, under the title Trattenimenti
. This title, "harmonic entertainments" in English,
expresses exactly the purpose for which these sonatas were written.
They were for the entertainment of the performers who themselves were
probably musical dilettantes
and like Albinoni himself, from
the higher echelons of society. The technical requirements are considerable
which indicates that amateurs of those days were quite skilful.
All the sonatas are in four movements, following the model of the
Corellian sonata da chiesa
. This has inspired the performers to
choose an organ for the realization of the basso continuo
This is certainly a legitimate option, but the organ is not specifically
connected to the sonata da chiesa
. This term should not be
interpreted as an indication that these sonatas were meant to be played in
church. The use of an organ in every sonata is somewhat one-sided. After a
while I longed for a different sound, such as that of the harpsichord or a
plucked instrument. In some movements the basso continuo
played by the cello alone, and that is certainly an interesting option. It
was common practice in Albinoni's days but is seldom adopted in our
The three interpreters deliver acceptable performances, according to
the rules of historical performance practice. However, I am not that
enthusiastic. I have already referred to the lack of variety in the
scoring of the basso continuo
. I also find Giorgio Tosi's tone
a bit thin and his range of expression rather narrow. Not long ago I
reviewed a disc with five sonatas by Albinoni, including three from
this opus, played by the French violinist Guillaume Rebinguet-Sudre
). I wrote: "The dynamic shading and his
bow vibrato on long notes and the accentuation of good notes are instrumental
in securing a compelling interpretation." That is exactly what
I largely missed here. There is a lack of dynamic accenting and in general
of differentiation. The contrasts in tempo between the slow and the
fast movements is also too limited. By and large Rebinguet-Sudre takes
more time in the slow movements. He also needs more time in the fast
movements, but that is not because his tempi are slower but because
he observes all the repeats. That seems to be not the case here, which
is surprising considering the space left on both discs.
On balance, these are competent performances, but not really compelling. I
would advise against listening to this set at a single stretch but I
probably wouldn't find that problematic in performances like those by
Rebinguet-Sudre. The present disc makes good listening if consumed a little
at a time.
Johan van Veen