Handel: Water Music; Il pastor fido Suite

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Water Music; Il pastor fido Suite
PERFORMER: Tafelmusik/Jeanne Lamon
CATALOGUE NO: SK 68257 DDD
King George I so enjoyed Handel’s Water Music at its performance during the royal excursion on the River Thames of 17 July 1717 that, according to a contemporary newspaper report, he ‘caus’d it to be plaid three times in going and returning’. Tafelmusik – in a clear recording that pleasingly brings out the natural resonance of the period instruments – plays the version in which movements from the suites in D and G are interleaved, creating a vivid evocation of that occasion’s magnificent spectacle.

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After arresting stateliness in the overture, subtle balance of different instrumental groupings effectively highlights both the orchestra’s impeccable ensemble and Lamon’s sensitive musical direction. Sample the rich orchestral colours in the Allegro (track 3); the timbral brilliance in the two Menuets (track 6); the crisp alertness in the Bourrée and Rigaudon (tracks 7 and 13); the sensuous phrasing in the Sarabande and Lentement (tracks 12 and 14), and the simple, rustic charm of the Country Dance (track 17). Vibrant playing in the ‘Trumpet Menuet’ brings the work to a rousing conclusion.

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Tafelmusik completes its programme with a superb account of the suite (in its revised version of 1734) from Handel’s opera Il pastor fido which – beside stylishly characterised dances – features the horns in a colourful portrayal of the hunt. Nicholas Rast