Jordi Savall's exemplary performance of Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks is among the finest available on disc: refined and precise, but very big, with blood-stirring grandeur. This is just the kind of extroverted, rousing presentation that best highlights the music's open-air ceremonial function. Savall's Le Concert des Nations is essentially a chamber orchestra with double or triple winds, but the sound he elicits from the group is majestic and surprisingly powerful. The playing is crisp and the rhythmic articulation bracing, but the sound is never brash. In fact, more often than not it is seductively sensual, a heady integration of precision and supple, shapely phrasing. Handel left no authoritative edition of the score of Water Music and it has traditionally been divided into three suites, but Savall reorders the material into two suites, a decision that makes more sense in terms of key relationships and that sounds entirely satisfying.
You might think that Handel's Water Music, HWV 348-350, arguably the most familiar piece of Baroque music (the Four Seasons of Vivaldi can give it a run for its money, but its popularity is more recent), has received every possible interpretation. And you would be wrong, as the musicians of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin have shown in this Harmonia Mundi release, precisely recorded in Berlin's Teldex studio. You get a steady parade of innovations here, marked overall by, but not in the least restricted to, blisteringly fast tempos that turn the horn-dominated movements into tests of virtuosity. Unexpected dynamic contrasts and the unusual rhythmic treatment of the "Overture" to the Suite No. 1 (sample track one) are other novelties, but this veteran group is not out for shock value. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin operate without a conductor, and their coordination in these crisp prestos is worth the price of admission in itself. Their ability to act as one in really unusual shapings of each individual movement is remarkable, and the treacherous horn parts are near perfection in the hands of Erwin Wieringa and Miroslav Rovenský.
Celebrate the 250th anniversary of Handel's death with this impressive box set. 30-CD box set of the composer's most celebrated works–including the Royal Fireworks and Water Music, The Messiah, concerti grossi and much more! Featuring conductors Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Hogwood, Trevor Pinnock, Mark Minkowski and others. Performances by the Gabrielli Players, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, English Baroque Soloists and others.
George Frederick Handel (1685-1759), one of the preeminent Baroque composers, was born in Germany, educated in Italy, and spent most of his career in England, making him one of the first genuinely cosmopolitan composers noted, for the elegance, sophistication, and tunefulness of his music. He established his reputation in London as a composer of Italian opera, but after public taste shifted in the 1730s, he turned to English oratorios, the most famous of which is Messiah. Other popular works include Water Music, Royal Fireworks Music, the operas Giulio Cesare and Serse, and the oratorios Israel in Egypt and Judas Maccabeus.
Anthony Camden, for years principal oboe of the LSO, here makes a very welcome solo appearance on disc, playing with typical point and style, using his attractively reedy tone. The regular oboe concertos are well supplemented by the Suite in G minor as edited by Camden, where he is joined by the prize-winning Julia Girdwood on the second oboe. The Otho Overture too features prominent roles for oboes in duet. Ward and the City of London Sinfonia are sympathetic accompanists using modern instruments. First-rate sound from All Saints, East Finchley.
If only for his melodic genius, Handel would have been forever acknowledged as one of history's greatest composers. These delightful sonatas for recorder provide abundant evidence to support that claim, and Marion Verbruggen's warm, resonant recorder and brilliant flute prove the perfect partners for bringing these rarely heard pieces to life.