Handel organ concertos. Tachezi & Harnoncourt

Review by: ClassicsToday

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 8

Surprising as it may seem, these very distinguished accounts of the Handel Organ Concertos Op. 4 and Op. 7 are now more than 25 years old–yet they’ve more than stood the test of time, and indeed are still virtually unrivalled. Herbert Tachezi’s performances always are fascinating to hear anew: note for example how he constantly stimulates interest with delightful ornamentation of melody lines, and the way he approaches caesuras in the texts with proper attention paid to their structural and harmonic settings. And there are some nicely inventive touches in Tachezi’s subtle use of registrations, quite often dictated by the historical background to individual concertos, most of which are transcriptions. As an example, he uses a light touch and flageolet-like range of settings to mimic the sound of a recorder, which was, as far as can be determined, the instrument for which Handel composed the first version of the Op. 4 No. 2 concerto. By contrast, Tachezi chooses a sonorous diapason for the grave passacaglia-like opening movement of the concerto in B-flat Op. 7 No. 1.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s Vienna Concentus Musicus plays superbly, with a deftness of touch and technical clarity that perfectly suits the music. You’ll be constantly delighted, too, by the intimacy of musical dialog, particularly in slow sections (try the adagio from the G minor concerto, Op. 4 No. 1), a considerable feat when you consider that conductor and orchestra must have been located a very considerable distance away from the organ bench in the gallery. If you need these works in a still more pronounced period setting you could try the 1996 Hyperion discs by Paul Nicholson with Roy Goodman directing the Brandenburg Consort. The drawback there is that the historic organ has a rickety-sounding mechanical action that’s far more intrusive than that of Tachezi’s instrument (located at the Casino Zögernitz, Vienna). Nicholson uses an organ (from St. Lawrence Church, Whitchurch, England) that almost certainly was played by Handel himself, and this may be a tempting consideration for some collectors. The Tachezi/Harnoncourt set may have been around for years, but it’s still exceptionally good, and a genuine bargain.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Nicholson/Goodman (Hyperion)

GEORG FREDERIC HANDEL - Organ Concertos Op. 7 Nos. 1-6; Organ Concertos Op. 4 Nos. 1-6


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