The inherent spirit of Handel's music seldom eludes Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert and it is realized here in fresh and vigorous performances... 'Sparkling' is a word which admirably sums up these performances.
Handel's six Concerti grossi, Op. 3 were published by Walsh in London in 1734. Most of the material, however, had been in existence for some while before when Handel had used it as entr'acte music during performances of operas, oratorios and anthems. Only the First and Fourth Concertos appear to have been conceived as complete works; the First Concerto (alone among the six) furthermore, does not contain pieces borrowed from other works but was, as Hans Joachim Marx points out in a very helpful andRead more interesting note, an adaptation of an earlier concerto also perhaps used as entr'acte music. Whatever their pedigree Handel's Op. 3 contains one enchanting movement after another, scored for a variety of woodwind instruments with string orchestra and, in the Sixth Concerto, an obbligato organ.
The inherent spirit of Handel's music seldom eludes Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert and it is realized here in fresh and vigorous performances. The string playing provides a warm sound and a homogeneous texture—we have come to expect nothing less—but it is the excellence of the oboe playing which calls for particular applause. Handel was second to no baroque composer that I can think of in the technically informed manner with which he wrote for this instrument and the material which he composed for it reveals his special love of it. The outstanding example in Op. 3 is, of course, the Largo of the Concerto No. 2 in B flat; there the oboe's expressive cantilena is gently accompanied by the broken-chord accompaniment of two concertante cellos. It comes off very effectively in this performance. Elsewhere it is the sheer exuberance of Pinnock's approach, his crisp attack, and the elegant poise which he brings to dance measures—Minuets in particular—which place this new version of Op. 3 ahead of any rival that I have heard. 'Sparkling' is a word which admirably sums up these performances... Warmly recommended.
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