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Handel: Water Music, Royal Fireworks Music / Mallon, Aradia Ensemble


Release Date: 01/17/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557764   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


These works are so familiar--and so frequently successfully recorded--that a reviewer can almost admire the record buyer who already owns one or two versions (say, one on modern instruments and another on period) and doesn't have to sit and analyze another. Decisions, decisions: Gardiner (Philips) is just about ideal on period instruments, but Norrington (Virgin), also on period instruments, has more personality and offers some surprises from the brass. Charles Mackerras (Telarc), with modern instruments, is brightly colored. But enough about them.

Both works were composed for outdoor events--heaven knows what they sounded like. The Water Music (1715, 1717) was used to entertain
Read more royalty floating up and down the Thames; some of it may have been played indoors with supper. The Royal Fireworks Music dates from 1749 and was to be performed in Green Park to celebrate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle; the rehearsal, a week earlier, was attended by 12,000 people. At the performance itself, the fireworks were unimpressive, but one of the pavilions caught fire. Talk about excitement.

Kevin Mallon leads a Toronto-based, 34-person group of period instrumentalists called the Aradia Ensemble on this new, bargain issue, and it's a terrific, ear-opening show. The music is, above all, joyful, with dance movements galore and plenty of giddy pomp. Mallon has rethought the tempos, almost all of which, he feels, should be quicker than we're accustomed to hearing. If you listen to the Air, the fourth movement to Suite No. 1, you'll be surprised at how good it sounds played without the usual serious "aura" that drags it down. Mallon writes in the accompanying notes that he looked at an 18th-century score for the piece and discovered it was marked "presto".


These quick tempos work most of the time, and if, for example, you overlook the fact that the alla hornpipe of the Water Music Suite No. 2 and the Rigaudon of No. 3 could only have been danced by a dancer on speed, and just listen to how effortlessly entertaining the music is, you'll love it. Mallon is not rigid in his fleetness, however: the final movement of Suite No. 1 is relaxed, and he slows it down even further for its last few seconds, giving it the stature it requires.


Mallon also adds side-drum and tambourines to a couple of the movements, and they add jollity and jauntiness; only a whiner would object. There's a thin line in this music between too ostentatious and too mild, and by keeping his forces slim and his tempos original and suited to the music, he avoids being either. When the trumpets and horns ring out they don't blare, and in La Paix from the Royal Fireworks Music, when Mallon uses transverse flutes (as suggested in the original manuscript), the effect is magical rather than just mellow. Listen to the overture of the Royal Fireworks, brass blasting, drums being banged with wooden-headed sticks, all at a military tempo that implies forward propulsion rather than combative stodginess.


If I have one criticism of the performances, it's similar to how I feel about the same conductor's recent recording of Rinaldo: the strings tend to attack softly, and I prefer more snap. Maybe I'm looking for trouble, but those slashing attacks tend to make you sit up and listen even more attentively. But these performances are wonderfully peppery nonetheless, and Naxos' absolutely natural recording captures every sound and balances the instruments ideally. This is both a bargain and a terrific reading. Highly recommended, and right to the top of the list. [3/7/2006]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Water Music Suite no 1 in F major, HWV 348 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715-1717; London, England 
Length: 29 Minutes 23 Secs. 
2.
Water Music Suite no 2 in D major, HWV 349 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715-1717; London, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 28 Secs. 
3.
Water Music Suite no 3 in G major, HWV 350 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1715-1717; London, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 52 Secs. 
4.
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351 by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1749; London, England 
Length: 20 Minutes 7 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: I. Overture: Largo - Allegro - II. Adagio e staccato
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: III. Allegro - IV. Andante - Allegro
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: V. Passepied
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: VI. Air
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: VII. Menuet
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: VIII. Bourree
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: IX. Hornpipe
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348: X. Allegro
Water Music: Suite No. 2 in D major, HWV 349: I. Overture
Water Music: Suite No. 2 in D major, HWV 349: II. Alla Hornpipe
Water Music: Suite No. 2 in D major, HWV 349: III. Sarabande
Water Music: Suite No. 2 in D major, HWV 349: IV. Rigaudon
Water Music: Suite No. 2 in D major, HWV 349: V. Lentement
Water Music: Suite No. 3 in G major, HWV 350: I. Sarabande
Water Music: Suite No. 3 in G major, HWV 350: II. Rigaudon I and II
Water Music: Suite No. 3 in G major, HWV 350: III. Menuet I and II
Water Music: Suite No. 3 in G major, HWV 350: IV. Gigue I and II
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: I. Overture
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: II. Bourree
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: III. La paix
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: IV. La rejouissance
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: V. Menuet I - Menuet II

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
  Excelent orchestration,a good recording March 6, 2013 By sophocles v. See All My Reviews "Clear music, passages that are very moving, good sound" Report Abuse
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