Handel: Trio Sonatas for Oboe and Violin, HWV 380-85 & 393 (attrib.)

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LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Trio Sonatas for Oboe and Violin, HWV 380-85 & 393 (attrib.)
PERFORMER: Convivium
Handel’s authorship of a set of six trios on this disc has long been questioned. Otherwise variously known as the ‘Halle’ or ‘oboe trio sonatas’ they are sometimes cited (on the strength, or weakness, of information provided by Carl Friedrich Weidemann, the German flautist in Handel’s orchestra) as the composer’s earliest pieces. While, at times, we might almost believe that such is the case, for the most part this music lacks any of the indelible marks that prompt us to recognise it as in any way Handelian. And it certainly was not initially intended for two oboes, since the writing of the second part reaches below the oboe compass and furthermore contains double-stopping. But these are very engaging sonatas, nonetheless, and they are performed stylishly and with lively spirit by Convivium. Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin) and Anthony Robson (oboe) contribute an evenly matched partnership, exchanging the many pleasing, if shortwinded ideas and phrases with spontaneity and playfulness. Richard Tunnicliffe (cello) and Paul Nicholson (harpsichord) provide excellent, idiomatic continuo support throughout. The Handelian credentials of an additional Sonata in G minor are stronger, providing a characterful digestif to an enjoyable six-course menu. No rival versions at the moment, and well worth exploring. Nicholas Anderson