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Thursday, June 1, 2017

George Frideric Handel - Concerti Grossi Op. 3 (Trevor Pinnock)


Composer: George Frideric Handel
  1. (01-03) Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 3, No. 1, HWV 312
  2. (04-08) Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 3, No. 2, HWV 313
  3. (09-11) Concerto grosso in G major, Op. 3, No. 3, HWV 314
  4. (12-15) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 3, No. 4, HWV 315
  5. (16-20) Concerto grosso in D minor, Op. 3, No. 5, HWV 316
  6. (21-22) Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 3, No. 6, HWV 317

The English Concert
Trevor Pinnock, conductor
Date: 1984



Handel's six Concerti grossi, Op. 3 were published by Walsh in London in 1734. Most of the material, however, had been in existence for some while before when Handel had used it as entr'acte music during performances of operas, oratorios and anthems. Only the First and Fourth Concertos appear to have been conceived as complete works; the First Concerto (alone among the six) furthermore, does not contain pieces borrowed from other works but was, as Hans Joachim Marx points out in a very helpful and interesting note, an adaptation of an earlier concerto also perhaps used as entr'acte music. Whatever their pedigree Handel's Op. 3 contains one enchanting movement after another, scored for a variety of woodwind instruments with string orchestra and, in the Sixth Concerto, an obbligato organ.

The inherent spirit of Handel's music seldom eludes Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert and it is realized here in fresh and vigorous performances. The string playing provides a warm sound and a homogeneous texture—we have come to expect nothing less—but it is the excellence of the oboe playing which calls for particular applause. Handel was second to no baroque composer that I can think of in the technically informed manner with which he wrote for this instrument and the material which he composed for it reveals his special love of it. The outstanding example in Op. 3 is, of course, the Largo of the Concerto No. 2 in B flat; there the oboe's expressive cantilena is gently accompanied by the broken-chord accompaniment of two concertante cellos. It comes off very effectively in this performance. Elsewhere it is the sheer exuberance of Pinnock's approach, his crisp attack, and the elegant poise which he brings to dance measures—Minuets in particular—which place this new version of Op. 3 ahead of any rival that I have heard. 'Sparkling' is a word which admirably sums up these performances.

The LP recorded sound is clear and my pressing was faultless, but, to my astonishment, the clarity and immediacy of the CD version was such that, by comparison, the LP now strikes me as marginally inferior. I have sometimes been sceptical of CD sound in the past; if this is the sort of thing we can expect at its best then this is altogether an exciting prospect for the future. Warmly recommended.

-- Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone

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George Frideric Handel (23 February 1685 (O.S.) [(N.S.) 5 March] – 14 April 1759) was a German-born, British Baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London, becoming well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, and organ concertos. He is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, with extremely popular works such as Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks and Messiah. His music was strongly influenced both by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition.


Trevor Pinnock (born 16 December 1946) is an English harpsichordist and conductor. He is best known for his association with the period-performance orchestra The English Concert which he helped found and directed from the keyboard for over 30 years in baroque and early classical music. Since his resignation from The English Concert in 2003, Pinnock has continued his career as a conductor, appearing with major orchestras and opera companies around the world.  He has also performed and recorded as a harpsichordist in solo and chamber music.


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