Albinoni's Adagio - Or Is It...?


Classical Academy | Baroque Music | Composers

 

Tomaso Albinoni (8 June 1671 - 17 Jan 1751) had earned himself a respectable reputation as an opera composer. Today, this Italian Baroque composer is known primarily for his instrumental music. It was this particular side of his oeuvre that attracted the attention of Johann Sebastian Bach, who wrote at least two pieces based on themes by Albinoni and constantly used his basses for harmony exercises for his pupils.

 

If you name one piece by Albinoni, it's likely his Adagio in G Minor for violin, strings and organ. But is it really Albinoni's Adagio? Giazotto, who arranged the piece, purportedly discovered a tiny manuscript fragment from a slow second movement of an otherwise unknown Albinoni trio sonata. He claimed to have obtained this gem shortly after the end of World War II from the rubble of the Saxton State Library in Dresden which sufffered heavily from bombing raids.

 

Until this day, Giazotto never produced the manuscript fragement and even after his death in 1998 no official record of its presence in the library's collection has ever been located. Giazzotto's last assistant, a musicologist named Muska Mangano, since discovered a manuscript transcription of a figured bass portion that bore in the top right-hand corner a stamp that seemed to concretely prove a Dresden provenance. Yet this is still in doubt, and many believe that the work is Giazzotto's in all but name, inspired with an Albinoni-esque twist.

 

Albinoni's or Giazotto's - you decide it if matters. Listen to this superb recording of the remarkable Adagio and relax into its blissful string harmonies.