Unknown to many, this is not an original by Albinoni at all (he lived between 1671 and 1751) but was in fact reconstructed from a scrap of original music discovered in what remained of a bombed-out library in Dresden. Eventually, after the discoverer Remo Giazotto had done with the piece, it had no Albinoni left in it, so why it is still referred to in his name is anyone's guess. Maybe it was an attempt to carry a piece on Albinoni's name. Maybe not. Maybe it was a way of demonstrating the loss of beauty in destruction. Maybe not. Maybe it was a marketing decision. The truth to me is that I don't care. With or without Albinoni's name, this music is a shattering achievement. It moves at a stately pace exchanging its voice between strings and organ and then stops quite still to pronounce one of the most emotionally wrenching codas you can imagine.
Some people hear this piece and in the context of its creation hear a mournful elegy to war and loss. That is perfectly possible. Some people hear it and cannot help having a vision of people being gunned down in Italian areas of major American cities in the 1930s, usually somewhere near to a fruit stall selling oranges, occasionally in slow motion. It's certain that the climax to this piece may be one of the most often and recognisably expressed moments of grief known in the musical canon. It also contains some of the best tone clusters you will hear anywhere. Sure, it has been overused and in some senses has become a cliche, but cliches are cliches for a reason.
Although originally written for strings and organ, I found the latter impossible to pull together on the Mellotron. The only organs recorded for the instrument were the Lowrey and the full-bore Church Organ from St John's Wood, neither of which would do any justice to the stopped pipes that the score requires. Instead I opted to make the Mellotron play a flute choir, with the upper melody and harmony phrased by the original solo flute and the new Ian McDonald flute, with the even newer bass flute underneath where the bass pedals live.
This is also available on YouTube.
Instrumentation: Mellotron M400 Playing