The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin complete their Handel trilogy with this recording of the Op. 3 concerti grossi. Even if this selection of concertos was most likely compiled by Handel’s publisher rather than by the composer himself, the overall quality and colorful nature of the music contained do make it a powerful “opus”. With their historically-informed and lively playing, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and concertmaster Georg Kallweit demonstrate why many consider them the best baroque ensemble of today. The ensemble’s first PENTATONE album, Cantata (2018) with countertenor Bejun Mehta, won a Diapason d’or. Their 2019 recording of the first six Op. 6 concerti grossi was hailed as “immaculately played … free ofRead more fashionable eccentricities” by The Sunday Times, while Klassik praised the ensemble’s playing as “eloquent”. Their following release with the remainder of the Op. 6 concertos (2020) was singled out by Music Web International for its unprecedented “lightness” and “brightness”.
The group's performances of Handel have been big and lush compared to others in the historical-performance field, and this set is no exception. Akademie für alte Musik's playing is expressive, with a humorous tinge in places. The Handel Op. 3 set is less coherent than the composer's later works in the genre, but it is all echt Handel, and there are many fine examples of compelling Handelian melody. These might be slightly old-fashioned Handel performances, but the factors that made the Akademie für alte Musik attractive in the first place are all still operative.