Handel: Trio Sonatas, Op. 5

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Handel Trio Sonatas
WORKS: Trio Sonatas, Op. 5
PERFORMER: The Brook Street Band
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2068
These seven sonatas are astonishingly undervalued, with no currently listed recording of the complete set. Perhaps they’re suspect because so many movements are self-borrowings, but this practice often signalled affection for the source rather than casual plagiarism. No violas were available for the Chandos Anthems (1717-18), so the texture of their introductory Sonatas, two parts above continuo bass, proved an ideal source for trio sonatas 20 years later. Other movements are borrowed from dances in Handel’s later operas, meeting the taste for light dance suites to accompany a summer evening stroll in London’s pleasure gardens.

Advertisement

The disc reveals a treasure house of miniature delights – a charming gavotte (No. 1); colourful musette framing an energetic allegro (No. 2); a haunting rondeau melody which followed me round for hours (No. 3). The fourth sonata seems a mis-fit with only three movements, though its passacaille is finely worked-out and organ provides an imaginative change of continuo colour. I questioned – but enjoyed – pizzicato accompaniment to the final minuet.

Advertisement

The Band is highly polished bar a momentary sour unison, and infectiously enthusiastic. Sonata 5 opens with bold rhetoric, and modest decorations are high-spirited. The recording avoids too assertive an edge to the strings, while a curious delight is the organ’s bright ‘quint’-toned diapason (No. 6). George Pratt