Concerti grossi, Op. 3
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Georg Kallweit
Pentatone PTC 5186 776 53:18 mins
Just a year after the release of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin’s immensely enjoyable recording of Handel’s 12 Op. 6 Concerti grossi comes this recording from the same ensemble of the six Concerti grossi, Op. 3. Though this earlier ‘Opus’ lacks the cohesive strength and unity of purpose of the other – it was initially published as a set without close consultation with Handel himself – the six works are nonetheless a constant delight, richly varied in their formal clothes and generously endowed with instrumental colour.
Much of the music had been composed many years earlier than the 1734 year of publication, when it had served a variety of purposes. As a result, no two concertos of the set are identically scored and Handel’s imaginative deployment of woodwind is, perhaps, especially beguiling.
The leader and director of the AAM Berlin’s ensemble, Georg Kallweit, is a sympathetic and responsive Handelian. He favours brisk tempos in faster movements, indulges in a pleasing rhythmic elasticity where appropriate, and maintains a crisp and airy articulation, which serves the many dance movements especially well. Ornaments are commendably stylish, and there is a wealth of sensitive playing from the soloists, outstanding among whom are Christoph Huntgeburth (flute), Xenia Löffler (oboe) and Clemens Flick (organ). Such playing deserves a place in a hall of fame with The English Concert (Archiv) and the Boyd Neel Orchestra (Decca), whose reissue has been disgracefully overlooked.