The Brook Street Band: Handel Trio Sonatas, Op. 2

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Handel: Trio Sonatas, Op. 2
WORKS: Trio Sonatas, Op. 2; Passacaglia
PERFORMER: The Brook Street Band
CATALOGUE NO: AV2282

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Handel’s Op. 2 set of ‘Sonatas or Trios for Two Violins, Flutes, or Hoboys with a Thorough bass for the Harpsichord or Violoncello’ were compiled from earlier sources. Listen to the second Sonata and you might fancy you hear an echo of Acis and Galatea. But this wistful Sonata da chiesa was composed when Handel was only 14 years old, long before he was drawn to the musical glories of Italy.

Though the publisher was aiming at the lucrative market of amateur players, a more common setting for performance would have been the pleasure gardens of London. Here, violinists Rachel Harris and Farran Scott, recorder player and flautist Lisete da Silva, cellist Tatty Theo and harpsichordist Carolyn Gibley demurely coax the music back indoors, while retaining just a hint of the bosky night air. There is a postcard from Venice in the liquid Largo of the first Sonata (plundered from Agrippina), and several nods to Handel’s former patron, the Duke of Chandos. It’s a sweet-tempered, well ordered performance. But a hint of heavier perfume wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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Anna Picard