About this work
Alessandro Marcello was the elder of two bothers, born to a noble Venetian family. Like Albinoni, they were dilettante musicians who were able to choose a freelance career rather than regular employment. Possibly for this reason, neither Alessandro nor his brother published a substantial amount of music, but both were entirely serious musicians of considerable capability. It is likely that a substantial body of manuscript works by both brothers has been lost. Alessandro's largest collected body of works is a set of concertos published under the title La Cetra sometime between 1730 and 1740. They were issued under the pseudonym of Eterio Stinfalico, probably to disguise his noble background.
His most famous work is however the present concerto, first published in Amsterdam around 1717 among a miscellaneous collection of concertos by the famous publishing house of Jeanne Roger and Le Cène. In the usual three movements, the concerto adopts a style similar to that frequently encountered in Albinoni's oboe concertos. The outer movements are gracefully lyrical; the opening Allegro attains an elegiac beauty far removed from the drive and energy of Marcello's Venetian contemporary Vivaldi. The central movement is a deeply-felt Adagio which aspires to genuine pathos. J.S. Bach obviously appreciated the work's special qualities; it was one of a number of Venetian concertos he transcribed, in this instance for solo harpsichord (BWV 974).
Curated by Minna Ylikauma, Head of Catalogue