Handel: The Complete Oboe Concertos and Sonatas

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LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: The Complete Oboe Concertos and Sonatas
PERFORMER: Paul Goodwin (oboe)St James’s Baroque Players/Ivor Bolton
Some of Handel’s loveliest instrumental music. Two of the three oboe concertos, dating from Handel’s years in Hamburg, were written as concertos in the first place; the other was compiled later, from two Chandos anthems, while the Concerto grosso, Op. 3/3, which features solo oboe and violin, also has origins elsewhere in Handel’s canon. Compilations and purpose-built compositions hold together equally beautifully. Paul Goodwin’s rich-toned, elegantly shaped playing gives the lie to assumptions, still often made, about the roughness of the Baroque oboe, and Ivor Bolton directs his St James’s Baroque Players purposefully, providing an imaginative continuo line to boot. The two oboe sonatas of 1710-14 make a nice textural contrast. The recording, though slightly edgy, is perfectly acceptable. Stephen Pettitt