Friday, June 2, 2017

George Frideric Handel - Water Music; Music for the Royal Fireworks (Jordi Savall)


Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • (01-12) Water Music suite No. 1, HWV 348 (Händelgesellschaft edition)
  • (13-22) Water Music suite No. 2, HWV 349 (Händelgesellschaft edition)
  • (23-28) Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351

Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor
Date: 1993
Label: Astrée




Never has so much color, character, and attitude (in the best sense) been lavished on Handel’s well-worn, molto-recorded, and verging-on-saturation-level masterpiece known as the Water Music. This repackaged and reissued recording from 1993 that also includes the Music for the Royal Fireworks comes as close as these things can to placing us in the best seat in the house and treats us to a rare experience: the sensation of believing we’re hearing a ruggedly familiar piece for the first time. Literally bursting with energy, scintillating strings, blazing horns, and incisive winds, and never boring even for one second, these performances give you Handel at his most exciting. Jordi Savall gets the absolute most out of individual and combined instrumental timbres and literally drives the music forward on the fleet and flawless hands, lips, and fingers of his virtuosic band of musicians.

Of course, not everyone will like Savall’s interpretive decisions, especially regarding tempos in a few of the sections, for which the word “brisk” would be far too moderate a term. On the other hand, Savall’s decision to combine the G and D major suites into one group and leave the F major pieces together proves quite serviceable and, in the order he presents the individual movements (bound to be another sticking point with some listeners) makes a perfectly good case for this arrangement as very practical for modern concert hall performances and for recordings. (No one knows the original order for each suite anyway as no autograph manuscript or authentic first edition exists.) The Fireworks Music is played with the same sonic brilliance and virtuoso ensemble technique–and with the same infectious spirit. The sound is nothing less than exemplary, a tribute to Pierre Verany who oversaw the original production. [2/18/2000]

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday

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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.


Jordi Savall (born August 1, 1941) is a Catalan conductor, viol player, and composer. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for reviving the use of viol family instruments (notably the viola da gamba) in contemporary performance and recording. His characteristic repertoire features Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, and occasionally Classical and even Romantic periods. Savall's discography includes more than 100 recordings, on EMI Classics, Astrée, and his own label, Alia Vox.


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