Concerto a Cinque No. 11

Tomaso Albinoni

Concerto a Cinque No. 11 in Bb major

Op. 9/11

About this work

Typical of Albinoni's Op. 9 collection, this concerto is cast in three movements (fast-slow-fast), with the solo parts conceived more instrumentally than the vocal-style solos in Albinoni's earlier collections.

The 11th concerto exists in multiple versions; it's most often heard with a single oboe soloist, less frequently with two violins, and it's been arranged for trumpet (although B flat is not an agreeable key for Baroque trumpet) and recorder. It's a bright, outgoing work whose opening Allegro begins with an extended, bouncy tutti theme echoed very briefly by the solo, which -- following Albinoni's typical practice -- is soon interrupted by a short tutti restatement. Only then is the theme spun out in the first of several full variants in the solo part. This is essentially a monothematic movement, with the solo offering a series of varyingly elaborate treatments of the melody or its individual components, the solo statements spaced apart by orchestral interjections.

The Adagio alters the mood significantly. If the music were played fast it could be a march; if slower, it might be a dirge. At its proper medium-slow tempo, though, it moves forward with resolute tread, the initial melody vacillating between two neighbor notes before venturing further up the staff. The solo delivers a series of elaborations on this theme through the course of a fairly short movement.

The concluding Allegro is a gracious if sometimes rhythmically busy piece constructed very much like the first movement, right down to the solo getting only a brief phrase in before the tutti interrupts. Once the solo portions get underway, the whistle-worthy melody is subjected to several elaborations, all the development arising from components of the theme itself without benefit of independent contrasting material.