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Albinoni's Adagios: an exquisite taste of Baroque music - MP3/CD Audio
on 20 June 2011
I downloaded this whole album as MP3 tracks a while ago and I never tire of listening to it. The album consists of 23 pieces, many of them quite short, and mostly the slow movements of various concertos. Each of the tracks is the complete movement, by the way, not some awful edited version or "excerpt" - Baroque concertos just happened to have short sections.
The album begins with the renowned Adagio in G Minor for organ and strings, the only long track in the set. Interestingly, this beautiful work was only discovered in 1948. It has a simple, yet hauntingly exquisite melody, quite romantic in character - remarkable since it actually foreshadows the Romantic era in music by nearly 200 years! The other lesser known pieces are equally enchanting and this really is music to relax to, and dream to.
Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751) composed a prolific number of works and was so influential at the time that Bach himself composed music based on his earlier pieces. Albinoni had a strongly intuitive sense of melody and phrasing, at a time when music was not noted for its reflective melodic insights but characterized by complex counterpoint, formal splendour and a rather ornamented style. The slower pieces have been deliberately chosen here and some might say it is all a bit "samey". But sometimes we have those moods when all we want is to revel in feelings generated by certain kinds of tempo, key, pace and combination of instruments, again and again. We don't want some big, demanding piece, just short, selected, dreamy glimpses into music. For this, and if you like Baroque, of course, Albinoni's Adagios could be exactly the place to go.
The orchestra featured on this album deserves a special mention. All the tracks are by I Solisti Veneti conducted by Claudio Scimone. This award-winning group is one of the first rank of small Italian chamber orchestras with modern instruments: they, and their founder, Scimone, specialise in this type of Italian Baroque music. All of the recordings are excellent though some are older, remastered tracks. The album just oozes with professionalism and the MP3 format seems more than adequate to convey the fine audio quality.
The very epitome of what Classic FM has dubbed 'smooth classics', believe me, this serene album will surprise and delight you. Highly recommended.