…Bradley Creswick and his colleagues offer straightforward and vital modern instrument readings of these delightful gems… If your preference is modern instruments, there is no reason to pay more than the Naxos price, especially if you're interested in a bright and jaunty interpretation that is also well recorded.
…and the whole production is superbly engineered and presented with Harmonia Mundi's usual care for every detail of production. It doesn't get any better.
…But what stands out is the overall sound, the brightness and energy of the ensemble, the often rapid yet appropriate tempi. All that depends on a conductor who truly understands the music. This memorable recording is a must for lovers of Handel’s instrumental music. This bargain re-release makes it even more attractive - this is a disc to snap up right away.
Handel's Concerti Grossi opus 6 must surely be ranked as some of the greatest orchestral music ever composed. Probably penned in or around 1739, the pieces were developed to serve as orchestral "interludes" for other operatic or oratorio performances. To listen to them, however, is to tempt us not believe that this could possibly be the case: the Concerti Grossi opus 6 works are without doubt among the pinnacle of Baroque composition. After listening to these, we are left with a distinct sadness that Handel did not turn his attention more to this genre, as his masterful treatment in the opus 6 shows us his true genius.
I Solisti Italiani is a chamber string orchestra consisting of about 12 players, known particularly for their spirited readings of works from the Baroque and Classical periods. They have performed and recorded much Vivaldi over the years and have devoted nearly as much effort to the works of Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Rossini…
This was William Christie's last recording for Harmonia Mundi, and it really is a pity that he only recorded five out of a total of twelve concertos, for these are superb performances in every respect. If you're looking for an excellent selection on one disc from Handel's Op. 6, then you really can't do better. On the other hand, I can't imagine anyone not wanting the whole set, and Andrew Manze and the Academy of Ancient Music, also on Harmonia Mundi, squeeze them all onto just two discs in performances every bit as fine as these. It's your call. –David Hurwitz