Richter actually made a full set of recordings for Handel's Concerti Grossi. The Munich Bach Orchestra, who almost played exclusively for Richter, maintained its essential baroque flur throughout all the pieces, under the impeccable conducting of Richter. The different string sections played as if they were in a chorus, each minute part played in fully melodious and engaging manner, while the ensemble as a whole displayed all the required congeniality and harmoniousness essential of the baroque style. The rhythms are enlivened while contrasts striking, and you will seldom find Handel's works played in such grand style as did Richter and the Munich Bach Orchestra here. (Amazon.com)
…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.
…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.
…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.
John Eliot Gardiner and his period instrument ensemble produce a lovely, smooth sound in these very well played performances, which use Handel's versions for strings and winds. Balances are fine; playing and recording collaborate to produce a treasurable clarity in which every line registers. –Leslie Gerber … Handel's epic oratorio, Israel in Egypt, here in a gripping performance by John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, was a failure during Handel's lifetime. This was perhaps because of its immense variety of compositional techniques and forms. It is a virtual catalog of choral compositional methods, and thus stands outside the genre of 18th-century oratorio as such. Now, of course, it is recognized as what it is, a unique, dazzling work. –Joshua Cody … Although he billed this piece as an oratorio, it's really an opera–the first ever in English, and one of the finest too. Handel's audience wasn't fooled for a minute, and a successful performance needs a dazzling cast of singers, just as in the composer's Italian operas. Good as John Eliot Gardiner's singers are, they don't surpass John Nelson's cast on DG, nor does Gardiner's direction offer much competition. Had the DG not existed this would be perfectly recommendable, but life is cruel, and you deserve the best.(David Hurwitz)
The "Concerto grosso" was eminently popular in Europe at the beginning of the 18th century, Arcangelo Corelli having set the trend with his Opus 6 published around 1710, but probably written much earlier. The main attraction seems to have been the possibilities opened up by having two groups of musicians in dialogue with one another.