HANDEL Sonatas: in a, HWV 362; in b, HWV 367; in C, HWV 365; in e, HWV 375; in B?, HWV 377; in g, HWV 360; in F, HWV 369 • Tripla Concordia (period instruments) •Read more class="ARIAL12"> STRADIVARIUS 11007 (57: 07)
It hasn’t been long since I reviewed a CD of Handel’s “complete” recorder sonatas (Alan Davis, with harpsichordist David Ponsford on Guild GMCD 7301), and now here comes another one—sort of (see below). This new CD is not unwelcome, however. These works are an ever-renewing source of pleasure, and it is fun to hear how different musicians bring different nuances to them.
Somewhat unusually, the Guild recording did without a basso continuo doubling of the harpsichord’s bass line. Here, Tripla Concordia is more in line with tradition by including a cello (Caroline Boersma) in the ensemble. The other musicians in Tripla Concordia are recorder-player Lorenzo Cavasanti and harpsichordist Sergio Ciomei. Cavasanti plays three different recorders on this CD—two alto recorders in F, and a voice flute (?) in D, all built by the late Frederick Morgan, who also built Davis’s instrument. Ciomei’s harpsichord is a modern instrument by Tony Chinnery, after an instrument by Mietke from the early 1700s. Boersma’s cello is an original instrument by an unknown maker from the end of the 1600s.
Enjoyable as I found the performances by Davis and Ponsford, I have to give the edge to Tripla Concordia, and not just because I like the extra fullness provided by the cello. My comment about Davis and Ponsford was, “This recording offers Handel’s complete recorder sonatas in their most appealingly unvarnished form.” A little varnish is not such a bad thing, though, and Tripla Concordia’s more-sensual timbre falls more gratefully on the ears. Nobody said one has to wear a hair shirt in order to hear this repertoire. Cavasanti also is in better control of pitch and timbre than Davis is, and his individual sound is fuller. (To be fair, he also is more closely recorded than Davis is.)
The discs also contain somewhat different repertoire. Guild’s “complete” disc includes six sonatas. The one reviewed here includes seven, although it should be noted that HWV 375 is listed in the catalog of his works as a sonata for flute and continuo, so one could argue over its inclusion here. Also, HWV 367 is listed as existing in variants for recorder (367a, in D Minor) or flute (367b in B Minor). Tripla Concordia plays it in the latter key, but with a recorder, obviously, and not with a flute. (The Guild CD does not make life easy for listeners by omitting HWV numbers, which are helpfully included by Stradivarius.) There are other differences, too, simply because there is no definitive edition of these works. In the long run, I don’t think this matters as much as the sound and style of the performances, however, and while I respect Davis and Ponsford, I feel more warmth coming from Tripla Concordia, so theirs is the CD I am likely to return to most frequently.