Magazine article Gramophone

Handel: Water Music-Three Suites

Magazine article Gramophone

Handel: Water Music-Three Suites

Article excerpt


Water Music - Three Suites, HWV348-350

Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin

Harmonia Mundi [F] HMC90 2216 (49' * DDD)

Long debunked is the charming story that the so-called Water Music restored Handel to favour with his one-time employer the Elector of Hanover, recently crowned King George I. What we do know is that the music captivated the king and his entourage during a famous royal barge party from Whitehall to Chelsea and back in July 1717. And the Water Music--probably played as one long sequence rather than divided into three suites--has been beguiling audiences ever since with its flavoursome mix of robust English tunefulness, ceremonial swagger and Gallic pastoral grace.

From the delightfully sprightly Allegro of the Overture, the Berlin period band give a predictably enjoyable, accomplished performance: polished, rhythmically spirited and supple, imaginative in ornamentation (the oboe embellishments in the Adagio e staccato a model of taste and expressiveness) and choice of instrumentation in repeats. Some of the tempi might initially seem disconcertingly fast, though I came to relish the exuberant, springy Hornpipe, complete with added timpani, and the zesty--and quite undanceable--final Menuet. …

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