Thursday, April 14, 2011

Albinoni: Complete Oboe Concertos - Robson, CM90, Standage

Tomaso Albinoni
Complete Oboe Concertos
Anthony Robson, Collegium Musicum 90, Simon Standage
Chandos CHAN 0579

Exaggerated attention to one of a composer's works can breed neglect of the others, as seems to have been the case with Al binoni and the famous (and spurious) Adagio. Recordings of this piece occupy over seven column inches in The Gramophone Classical Catalogue, while there is no period-instrument set of Op. 9 and none of any kind of Op. 7 on record. All the concertos of Op. 7 and Nos. 2, 5, 8 and II of Op. 9 are for solo oboe and strings or, better, for strings tvith oboe: the soloist complements rather than 'opposes' the ripieno, interacting with it and eschewing 'spotlit' virtuosity. Albinoni treats the oboe like a voice (another wind instrument), writing in mainly conjunct lines, whereas Vivaldi (whose oboe works ! were written at about the same time) has the agile violin more in mind. There isn't one 'filler' in either set, which means that there isn't one in the programme either, and the slow movements have tunes that stay in the mind.

Anthony Robson seems set to become the 'new David Reichenberg', velvet-toned but with the hint of an edge (matching that of the strings), phrasing flawlessly and alert to lyricism and poetry where they appear over the parapet. Collegium Musicum 90 are one of the very best baroque bands to emerge in recent years and here they are in their element. The recorded balance is just right, keeping soloist and strings in equal perspective. In every good sense these are listener-friendly works, and this recording bids strongly for a place on every shelf. It is good news indeed that Chandos will shortly be completing both of these sets.

JD, Gramophone Magazine 1995

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