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Sheet Music Review

David Owen Norris

September/October 2006

Lontan da te, mia vita
Cantata for soprano voice, basso continuo
Albinoni, edited by Michael Talbot
Edition HH (HH 141 FSP), 9.95

Albinoni's cantata Lontan da te, mia vita is a model of practical editing for today's performer. This attractive Venetian cantata from around 1700 unsurprisingly presents an expressive slow aria and an energetic fast one (the coloratura not too difficult) in a setting of well?directed, purposeful recitative of remarkable harmonic sophistication - though the masterstroke of modulation is reserved for the Largo, where a minor 6-4 takes us round a most unexpected corner. Try it! Open key, E6-5flat, F5-3, C6flat-4, Dflat5-3 (as they say in the chess problems).

Talbot gives us exactly what Albinoni wrote (with some uncontroversial extra figuring) in two identical copies, punctiliously distinguished as 'soprano voice' and 'continuo'. And he also provides a third version, with a skeleton realisation of the bass. There are English and German translations of the text.

The preface (in English and German) is a delight. We learn that Albinoni was an amateur composer who made playing cards for a living.We are reminded that 18 was a 'round number' in 18th-century terms, since that's one and a half dozen. And there are some splendid turns of phrase: Talbot explains that in 1700 the accompanist was trusted to work out suitable harmonies unaided from a bass not fully figured. 'In modern conditions such parsimony is inadvisable,' he adds.

The back cover shows more riches (mainly Italian baroque/rococo) available from www.editionhh.co.uk in editions from distinguished scholars. Violin concertos, flute quartets and quintets, and a wealth of cantatas like this one. Worth a visit.

David Owen Norris

We are grateful to the proprietor of Sheet Music Review for permission to reproduce this review.
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