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Handel: Organ Concertos, Op. 7 / Egarr, Academy Of Ancient Music

Handel / Egarr
Release Date: 08/11/2009 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 807447   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


This is one of the most delightful Baroque orchestral recordings to appear in quite a while. In terms of the competition, it goes straight to the top of the heap. My colleague David Vernier had some reservations concerning Egarr's version of the Op. 4 organ concertos on this same label, but here, with a slightly larger ensemble, a highly varied continuo group consisting of harpsichord and theorbo, and a gloriously characterful copy of a period organ, the results are splendid in every way. Right at the start the bold contrast between the full organ and the orchestra plus harpsichord continuo
Read more establishes the colorful opposition of forces, creating a consistently ear-catching aural picture.

The music is some of Handel's finest, at least to the extent that he wrote it down. Movements such as the Bourrée finale of Op. 7 No. 1, the final Allegro of No. 2, or the Spiritoso third movement of No. 3 have an infectious rhythmic lift and real joy in Egarr's brilliant solo playing, while the gaunt opening Adagio of No. 4 in D minor strikes a deeper note. Handel marks several movements to be played with a general staccato (the Andante larghetto of No. 5, for example), and it's particularly gratifying to hear how sensitively Egarr contrives that we hear the result more as piquancy of accent than as an unpleasantly sharp curtailing of every note. Where Handel asks for improvisation, that's exactly what Egarr provides, and he does it beautifully--in vintage Handelian style, not a moment too long, and always engaging. The improvised voluntary at the start of the A major concerto (No. 2) is especially interesting and enjoyable as a speculative recreation of Handel's own practice.

Aside from the Op. 7 works we also get an ebullient performance of The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, and three pieces for harpsichord. The G major Chaconne, on a theme similar (as Egarr points out) to that used by Bach in the Goldberg Variations, is a particularly imposing piece nearly 20 minutes long. Complementing the genial confidence of the solo and orchestral playing is engineering that perfectly balances the organ against the larger ensemble, whether in regular stereo or SACD multichannel format. This is no mean feat: the presence of the organ, harpsichord, and theorbo threatens to turn the bass lines into mush, but thanks to sensitive microphone placement and Egarr's intelligent allocation of forces, the result consistently clarifies rather than obscures the musical argument. This marvelous release sets a new standard as an imaginative recreation of Handel's genius both as composer and performer. Unforgettable, and essential.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concertos (6) for Organ, Op. 7: no 1 in B flat major, HWV 306 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1740; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 11 Minutes 37 Secs. 
2.
Concertos (6) for Organ, Op. 7: no 2 in A major, HWV 307 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1743; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 14 Minutes 16 Secs. 
3.
Concertos (6) for Organ, Op. 7: no 3 in B flat major, HWV 308 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1751; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 15 Minutes 11 Secs. 
4.
Concertos (6) for Organ, Op. 7: no 4 in D minor, HWV 309 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1750; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 12 Minutes 22 Secs. 
5.
Concertos (6) for Organ, Op. 7: no 5 in G minor, HWV 310 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1750; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 11 Minutes 45 Secs. 
6.
Concertos (6) for Organ, Op. 7: no 6 in B flat major, HWV 311 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
7.
Chaconne for harpsichord with 2 sets of keys in F major, HWV 485 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1705 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 5 Minutes 36 Secs. 
8.
Fugues or Voluntaries (6) for Organ: no 1 in G minor, HWV 605 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1735; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
9.
Prelude and Chaconne for Harpsichord in G major, HWV 442 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 17 Minutes 26 Secs. 
10.
Concerto for Organ in F major, HWV 295 "Cuckoo and the Nightingale" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Richard Egarr (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1739; London, England 
Date of Recording: 11/2006-03/2007 
Venue:  St. Jude's-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden 
Length: 12 Minutes 15 Secs. 

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