London circa 1740 – Handel’s Musicians
Works by Handel, Sammartini, Castrucci, Oswald, Weidemann
La Rêveuse/Florence Bolton et al
Harmonia Mundi HMM902613 68:57 mins
In an earlier release La Rêveuse focused on Corelli’s legacy in a London of the 1720s. The ensemble has moved forward a couple of decades for this issue, assembling a motley gathering of composers of whom Handel and the elder Sammartini alone qualify as household names.
First on the menu is a flute concerto by Carl Friedrich Weidemann, a flautist in Handel’s opera orchestra where he was known as Charles Weideman. Stylistically forward-looking, it is an attractive piece, variously calling to mind Vivaldi and Telemann yet retaining a character of its own, above all in its alluring Amoroso conclusion. Olivier Riehl’s solo traverso playing is a delight.
Handel, himself, is represented by the fifth trio sonata from his Op. 2 for two violins and continuo and by a catchy Hornpipe composed for a concert at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The string playing is gratifyingly airy and sympathetic. Giuseppe Sammartini was principal oboe in Handel’s orchestra as well as being an effective composer, above all for recorder. The F major recorder concerto featured here is his best-known work and is played with fluency and ornamental panache by Sébastien Marq.
Next up is a Sonata for viola da gamba by Pietro Castrucci who led Handel’s opera orchestra for over 20 years. Florence Bolton, one of La Rêveuse’s directors gives an eloquent account discreetly accompanied on an archlute by her fellow director Benjamin Perrot. Music by Scots composer James Oswald completes a carefully researched and imaginative programme. Among disparate pieces of fluctuating interest lies an attractive trio sonata based on Scottish melodies.