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Handel: Concerti Grossi Op 6 No 7-12 / Pearlman, Et Al


Release Date: 01/29/2008 
Label:  Telarc   Catalog #: 80688   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Martin Pearlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Baroque
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HANDEL Concerti grossi, op. 6: No. 7 in B?; No. 8 in c; No. 9 in F; No. 10 in d; No. 11 in A; No. 12 in b • Martin Pearlman, cond; Boston Baroque • TELARC 80688 (79:33)

When the spirit moved him, Handel could compose with extraordinary speed. His amazing alacrity was no doubt, however, aided and abetted by his unabashed borrowing from his own and other composers’ music. Completed within the space of a single month, his op. 6 set of 12 concerti grossi, published in 1740, are thus unsurprisingly rife with such appropriations, including but not limited to Muffat’s Componimenti musicali, Scarlatti’s Essercizi, and Handel’s own Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, completed just the year before.

That little factoid
Read more notwithstanding, the op. 6 concerti grossi, alongside Bach’s Brandenburg concertos of 20 years earlier, represent the antipodal summing up and ultimate perfection of the concerto grosso genus. Bach explores the heterogeneity of combining string, wind, and brass instruments in various combinations. Handel pursues the Italian model of Corelli, advancing and refining the interplay among a homogeneous ensemble comprised exclusively of strings. Here, however, controversy arises, for it is known that—as with his organ concertos—Handel included a number of his op. 6 concertos as additional entertainments during intermissions at performances of his oratorios; and it was in these presentations that the composer augmented his band with oboes. So what we have is the classic argument over what Handel intended and what he actually wrote, for the concertos were published by Walsh with just string parts.

Some recorded performances—e.g., those with Iona Brown and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields—augment the strings with oboe and bassoon. But even with winds added, it has to be understood that the parts are discreet and almost never independent, mainly doubling and reinforcing the strings to provide extra body and volume, a sensible solution it would seem to counter the noise level of the milling crowd at a theater during intermission. In no way, however, can this be compared to Bach’s inclusion of winds and brass in his Brandenburg concertos, in which these instruments are featured in solo roles and participate in contrapuntal interplay on an equal basis, except of course in Nos. 3 and 6, which are for strings only.

Pearlman and his Boston Baroque join the ranks of the majority in opting for strings only performances of Handel’s op. 6. If you happened to acquire part I of the set covering the first six concertos, you will know that the Boston Baroque is a long established and highly regarded period-instruments ensemble. But 15 years is a long time in the seasoning process of any conductor and orchestra; and even though the group was founded by Pearlman in 1973, and had been playing together for almost 20 years prior to recording Volume 1 of the concertos, the difference between then and now with the release of Volume 2 is arresting. The ensemble has always played with great assurance and panache, but with this new release there comes an added fullness and weight to the corporate sound and a newfound richness to the string tone that brings the Boston Baroque perilously close to the opulence of a modern string orchestra. Being one who does not particularly appreciate the anorexic sound of some period-instruments ensembles, I offer this as a compliment, not a criticism.

Re Pearlman’s reading of these infectious scores, which in so many of their movements sound oh-so-English, he manages to find just the right balance between the graceful and the ceremonial, between the restrained and the abandoned, and between the soulful laments that are reminiscent of many an aria in Handel’s operas and the spirited fiddling in Vivaldi’s and Albinoni’s concertos. Pearlman’s tempos are, for the most part, what I would call mainstream and his interpolated embellishments subtle and few, by which I mean he does not indulge in the insanities (or is it inanities?) of some of the more recently founded Italian “Baroque-o Bizarro” period-instruments ensembles. Bottom line, these are wonderful performances that I would put up against any comers, either on period instruments or modern.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerti grossi (12), Op. 6: no 7 in B flat major, HWV 325 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Martin Pearlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Venue:  Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts 
Length: 12 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (02/22/2007 - 02/24/2007) 
2.
Concerti grossi (12), Op. 6: no 8 in C minor, HWV 326 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Martin Pearlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Venue:  Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts 
Length: 11 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (02/22/2007 - 02/24/2007) 
3.
Concerti grossi (12), Op. 6: no 9 in F major, HWV 327 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Martin Pearlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Venue:  Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts 
Length: 12 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (02/22/2007 - 02/24/2007) 
4.
Concerti grossi (12), Op. 6: no 10 in D minor, HWV 328 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Martin Pearlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Venue:  Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts 
Length: 12 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (02/22/2007 - 02/24/2007) 
5.
Concerti grossi (12), Op. 6: no 11 in A major, HWV 329 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Martin Pearlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Venue:  Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts 
Length: 16 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (02/22/2007 - 02/24/2007) 
6.
Concerti grossi (12), Op. 6: no 12 in B minor, HWV 330 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Martin Pearlman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Baroque
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Venue:  Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts 
Length: 11 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts (02/22/2007 - 02/24/2007) 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Satisfied -- Recommended March 9, 2013 By Wil L W. (Richwood, TX) See All My Reviews "I'm very happy with this CD: great sound and playing. Recommended without reservations." Report Abuse
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