Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin kickstarts their Handel trilogy with this recording of the first six concerti grossi op. 6. Originally designed as attractive interludes to English oratorio performances, Handel’s concerti grossi soon gained fame as the most appealing orchestral music of the baroque era. Written in London in 1739, towards the end of his career, Handel paid tribute to the immensely popular concerti grossi of Corelli while simultaneously proving his mastery incorporating all musical styles of his time. Led by their concertmaster Bernhard Forck, the players of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin demonstrate why many consider them the best baroque ensemble of today. This first installment will be followed by the last six concerti grossi op. 6, as well as a recording of the concerti grossi op. 3.
Handel wrote the first six Concerti Grossi published as op. 6 in just over two weeks, from September 29 to October 15, 1739 (the final six were completed before Hallowe’en). You can hear the rush of inspiration in these works in a way that few pieces of music can match. I think of Mozart’s piano concertos from the spring of 1785, and Schubert’s composition of Winterreise in February and October of 1827. Handel’s orchestral music sounds robust when it’s played like this, but I’ve heard more than a few versions of both op. 3 and op. 6 that were crippled by poor musical choices or stylistic axe-grinding, on both sides of the Historically Informed Practices divide. Bernhard Forck and his very fine Berlin musicians, supported by Pentatone’s fine engineers, let Handel’s inspiration flow unimpeded.
Total time: 01:12:13
Freunde und Förderer der Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin e.V.
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|Original Recording Format|
Nikodemuskirche, Berlin, in September 2018 and February 2019
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||July 18, 2019|
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, 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.
The sound, from the Nikodemuskirche, Berlin, is excellent, adding to the confirmed distinction of this well-managed, competently presented project.
Akamus gives us a thrilling set of Handel’s Op 6 Concerto Grossi, supremely inventive music given sparkling performances.
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