The very knowledge that Tomaso Albinoni had published an "Opus 10" managed to elude scholars until the 1960s and the music itself still longer; however, by the end of the 1960s, two copies of the ultra-rare Le Cene edition of the set of 12 concertos had been found. A strangely pellucid and conventional recording of the then unfamiliar music was promptly made by I Musici for Philips, at which point all interest in the novelty of Albinoni's Op. 10 set seemed to vanish. Only two other recordings separate the old I Musici version and this, Chandos Chaconne's Albinoni: Homage to a Spanish Grandee -- Concertos from Op. 10, a distance of more than 40 years. This time -- perhaps wisely -- Chandos decided to pass on the whole set of 12 and include a selection of the eight best concertos, as performed by period instrument group Collegium Musicum 90 under Simon Standage. Overall this is a much brighter, livelier, and more alert performance than has so far proved the norm, and the result is that a few concertos rise out of the collection owing to their sense of urgency and immediacy: the Concerto Secondo in G minor, the Concerto Settimo in F major, and the Concerto Undicesmo in C minor in particular. The aggressive strumming in the first movement is said to reflect the sound of the Spanish guitar in flamenco, and indeed perhaps the edge that Standage and company have over all others is their research into the dedicatee of this concerto set. That was the Marquis of Castelar, Don Luca Fernando Patiño of Spain, who visited Italy in the middle 1730s owing to some business relating to his involvement in the War of the Polish Succession. That explains a certain fashioning of the music in accord with Spanish tastes, but there is yet a more interesting dimension. Albinoni's Op. 10 concerti are the latest-made works that we have from his pen -- by far, owing to heavy losses among his vocal output -- and they demonstrate Albinoni's growing familiarity with galant style, even as he reserves for his accompaniment strategy much the same approach as he had employed 30 years before, with some minor modifications. This was a very new wrinkle in Western music in the mid-1730s; when Albinoni wrote these concertos Pergolesi still lived and the followers of Francesco Durante were just becoming known. Galant style evaded, or foiled, many composers much younger than Albinoni, and that he was able to adapt to the new manner shows that some aspects of his music continued to evolve even into his old age.
A critical edition of all 12 concertos in Albinoni's Op. 10 still awaits publication. Owing to their concision, clarity of playing, well-adjudged ensemble dynamics, and unflagging level of energy, Simon Standage and Collegium Musicum 90 have just brought that prospect one step closer with Chandos Chaconne's excellent Albinoni: Homage to a Spanish Grandee.