Stylish, Vivacious Handel From Berlin

Review by: David Vernier


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

This presentation of the first six of Handel’s Op. 6 concerti grossi is vibrant, uninhibited, almost aggressive in some cases, but always thoroughly centered in the context of the score, celebrating the catchy melodies and reveling in the pulsing rhythms, ultimately delivering a consummately entertaining and justly realized interpretation of these oft-performed and recorded concertos. Yes, these popular pieces have been superbly recorded before (check out our review of the Avison Ensemble’s exemplary recording of the complete set on Linn), but a new traversal, especially one as technically accomplished and musically impressive as this one, is certainly welcome. The works’ theatricality and clever, skillful compositional characteristics come to life in this orchestra’s vivid realizations.

Whether you know or have never before heard these seminal 18th-century concertos, you will be rewarded by hearing one of the world’s finest baroque bands deliver its best, well-considered readings–articulate, fast-moving, and stylish, exemplified in instances such as the lively, buoyant Allegro of the A minor concerto HWV 322 (a movement that some listeners may remember for its unforgettable rendition by the Swingle Singers in the 1960s–a performance that every Bach lover should experience).

The only drawback: we only get half of the Op. 6 set (which leaves out my favorite No. 11), leaving us to wonder if and when this very fine set will be completed. The sound, from the Nikodemuskirche, Berlin, is  excellent, adding to the confirmed distinction of this well-managed, competently presented project.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Avison Ensemble (Linn)

    Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Bernhard Forck

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