Handel's solo keyboard works tend to be overshadowed by Bach's and are thus rarely heard. This is a great pity, as there is much delightful music in these works. This is brought out by the young German pianist Ragna Schirmer in this 3-CD collection. Played on a modern piano, rather than on the harpsichord for which they were written, Frau Schirmer produces effortless, elegant performances that dance beautifully along.Teemacs @ Amazon.com
The Water Music is divided into three suites which are clearly differentiated by their tonality and instrumentation. The pieces with the lighter, more delicate instrumentation would certainly have been played indoors while the pieces with wind demanded double forces of woodwind and made their fullest effect in the open air. Handel’s other great al fresco work, the Music for the Royal Fireworks, was composed to commemorate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. Opus 3 is, in its splendid and resourceful way, music of forceful originality and bold contours, and is derived from many varied sources - opera, anthem, Passion, even Corelli.
The performances are nothing less than superb: they bring back the memories of the great series of recordings made with Pinnock and Hogwood from the 1970's and 80's, and it can be easily seen why the Academy has been the recipient of much praise and awards. These performers have reached a level of performance that clearly places them amongst the top rankings to be found anywhere. But the recordings, too, made by Harmonia Mundi, are also superb. The sonics are excellent, with large dynamic range, imperceptible noise levels, and fantastic balance of the various pieces.
The six recorder sonatas were composed in London, during the period 1724 - 1726, when Handel was enjoying a prolific period and huge success.
The recorder sonatas are a distillation of many of Handel's favourite melodic and rhetorical devices. As a master craftsman he was able to take ideas from large-scale works and recreate elements of oratorio, concerto, operatic aria and orchestral suites in perfectly crafted pocket book form.
The other interpreters also are noteworthy: Alice Harnoncourt, Anner Bylsma, Nokolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt and Herbert Tachezi