Handel wrote his great oratorio Messiah in just two weeks in 1741, setting a libretto by Charles Jennens. Every aria and chorus is memorable including, of course, the famous ‘Hallelujah’ chorus.

Recommended recording:
Susan Hamilton, Nicholas Mulroy, et al, Dunedin Consort/John Butt
Linn CKD285

Water Music

When George I took a boat trip down the Thames in July 1717, complete with entourage, they were also accompanied by 50 musicians on a separate ‘barge’ playing Handel’s stately Water Music.

Recommended recording:
L’Arte dell’Arco/Federico Guglielmo
CPO 7773122

Keyboard suites

Like Bach’s great Partitas, Handel’s Suites incorporate French, Italian and German music. From the most tender opening of Suite No. 2 to its Gigue ending, Handel reveals his mastery of colour and texture.

Recommended recording:
Murray Perahia
Sony SK62785

Giulio Cesare

Giulio Cesare received a welcome boost from a tremendously zesty Glyndebourne production in 2005. Handel's opera
boasts magnificently memorable music.

Recommended recording:
Jennifer Larmore, Barbara Schlick, Bernarda Fink, et al, Concerto Köln/René Jacobs
Harmonia Mundi HMC901385/87

Dixit Dominus

Written during his years in Italy, the influence of Vivaldi on this anthem is clear. It’s a virtuosic choral piece with exuberant counterpoint and drive.


Recommended recording:
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
Coro COR16076


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.