Dropping In, And Chilling Out With Handel’s Op. 3

Review by: David Vernier


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

It’s the way these things often happen: it had been a while since I last heard a recording of Handel’s Op. 3, and this one appeared just at the right moment, after a slog through the thorny, scrubby thicket of some woefully dissonant, persistently pointless, defiantly ugly modern works for unlikely and disagreeable instrumental collaborations. And thankfully, it’s nearly impossible for a competent, respectable Baroque band to mess these pieces up–and you’d better not, because there are few things in the musical repertoire more delightful and happy and uplifting than this set of six concertos, so chock-full of lovely, lively melodies, catchy thematic licks, infectious rhythms, and just-right instrumental scoring.

Well, be assured that Reinhard Goebel and his Berlin Baroque Soloists are as good as anyone in this repertoire, and the recorded sound, from Berlin’s Jesus-Christus-Kirche, exhibits an ideal fusion of intimacy and space that gives the performances life and light and vibrant presence. And so what if this collection was the product of Handel’s publisher’s below-board, blatantly mercenary machinations: when you hear the F major concerto HWV 315 (Handel seemed to be at his best in F major) you can’t help believe there is no better music of its kind ever, anywhere. Even in the closing Minuet Handel catches your ear on the repeat by dropping the oboes and allowing the bassoon to have the spotlight–a masterful stroke of color in an otherwise routine setting. In fact, much of the allure of these concertos lies in Handel’s generous employment of winds, sonorous, sumptuous, and sensuous.

If by chance you don’t already own a good set of Handel’s Op. 3 (and there are several excellent ones already in the catalog), this one makes a perfect choice. And if you care about these things, unlike the other sets, this one includes both F major concertos–the “inauthentic” one originally inserted by publisher John Walsh but quickly withdrawn, and the authentic HWV 315 that replaced it.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

    Berliner Barock Solisten, Reinhard Goebel

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