Handel: Concerti grossi Op. 6/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: L’OISEAU-LYRE
WORKS: Concerti grossi Op. 6/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
PERFORMER: Handel & Haydn Society/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 436 845-2 DDD
In his notes to these two justly celebrated sets of High Baroque concertos, Donald Burrows reminds us that ‘the Op. 3 publication is an assemblage, none the less attractive on account of its variety, of various works composed under different circumstances during the previous 20 years… the compilation of the set was the publisher’s and in some cases the ordering within individual works also’. ‘There is perhaps no other music before Mozart’s’, he says of Op. 6, ‘that so successfully combines an accessible musical style with an underlying seriousness of content and construction’. The Op. 3 cycle is scored for strings with recorders, flute, oboes, bassoons, archlute, harpsichord (Nos. 1, 2, 4 & 5) and organ (Nos. 3 & 6). Op. 6 is for strings alone, with archlute plus a pair of supporting harpsichords.

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A compellingly articulate modern alternative to Pinnock and Iona Brown, these period-practice, period-instrument, (lower) period-pitch performances are vitally characterised, big in sound and lithely detailed, with a spacious recording acoustic (TorontoHumbercrest United Church for Tafelmusik; Boston’s Methuen Memorial Hall for the Handel & Haydn Society). Grandiose gesture and extrovert display, intimate exchange and intellectual rigour seem to be the message of their ebullient music-making. Undesirable digital silence between movements and works on the Tafelmusik disc gives Hogwood the production edge. Ates Orga