Little is known about the 17th-century Italian composer and violinist Ignazio Albertini (Albertino), and these 12 Sonatas for violin and continuo are his only surviving works. However, we do know that as soon as he could Albertini left Italy and headed north of the Alps for Vienna, infatuated with the German school of violin playing in general and the accomplishments of Johann Schmelzer in particular. As a member of Schmelzer’s circle, Albertini made quite an impression, and these stylish, expertly crafted sonatas demonstrate how adept he became with this freshly adopted musical language.
Like Schmelzer (and Biber, Westhoff, Strungk, and Walther among others) Albertini frequently downplays the dance in favor of more colorful and technically challenging free-form invention. In particular, the First, Fourth, Eighth, and 11th sonatas designated here (Albertini did not arrange them in any fixed order) include passages where the composer’s imaginative use of phrasing, dynamics, and ascending and descending scales is on par with his mentors.
Alpha’s sound is glorious! The ensemble balances are ideal and the unique timbre and immediacy of each instrument is amazingly life-like. While hardly original, Albertini’s sonatas are often quite beautiful, and listeners even remotely interested in chamber music of this period are encouraged to take a chance on this one. Warmly recommended.