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  • Handel: Concerti Grossi, Op. 3 / Sonata a 5
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Handel: Concerti Grossi, Op. 3 / Sonata a 5 Import

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Audio CD, Import, February 13, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Richard Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music start a new Handel recording project. Their first release is Handel's Concerti grossi, Op. 3 and the Sonata a 5. Richard Egarr is the new Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music.

This new set of Handel's Op. 3 makes a superb case for these works (somewhat smaller than the more-familiar ones from Op. 6). Opus 3 is made up of assorted versions of concerti. Handel arranged and re-arranged many of these works often and so a definitive edition is probably impossible to assemble. Rather than being alarmed by the lack of similarities, we are treated to different combinations of instruments and different textures from movement to movement. Musicologists are bothered by who it was, precisely, that turned these concerti into a whole opus number. His publisher, John Walsh, claims responsibility, but did he do it with Handel's approval? We don't care. It's a delicious selection. Oboes, bassoons, and recorders are featured in the first, a solo flute brightens the third, while an organ improvisation shows up in the sixth to separate the first and last movements. Higher strings give energy to the opening of the second along with a pair of oboes, and the same combination darkens the second movement. The fourth has a prominent, propulsive harpsichord. A bonus is the composer's Sonata a 5, which is a sort of mini violin concerto. Richard Egarr is now in charge of the Academy of Ancient Music, and this, their first CD together, is remarkable on every level. The playing is terrific – energized, elegant, full of splendid details and tasteful embellishments – and the sonics are superb. The 11 string players, 7 woodwind players, and Egarr himself on organ and harpsichord, along with an archutenist and baroque guitarist, are spotlessly recorded, but with depth and warmth. This is irresistible. --Robert Levine

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Product Details

  • Conductor: Richard Egarr
  • Composer: G.F. Handel
  • Audio CD (February 13, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B000MG2LLS
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,215 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Baker on October 10, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Richard Egarr's first recording with AAM, this first volume of an anticipated Handel cycle is swiftly -- and justifiably -- gathering accolades. Classics Today rated it 10/10, calling the disc a "terrific release," "superbly engineered and presented [...]. It doesn't get any better." This month, Gramophone magazine announced it as the 2007 Gramophone Award Winner in the Baroque Instrumental category, proclaiming "Egarr could not have hoped for a better way to begin his tenure." I agree. The playing is wonderful, Harmonia Mundi's recording is warm and vibrant, and Egarr's notes for the recording are a interesting and informative. For Handel fans like me, or lovers of Baroque music in general, this disc is a definite "buy."
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By jsa on July 10, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The back cover of this release announces that it's the first recording made by the Academy of Ancient Music under their new director, Richard Egarr; and that it's the first in a projected series of Handel recordings. Well, it's a triumph in every way and I look forward to the next release. The playing by the AAM is solid and energetic, but not too energetic as it sometimes could be under Andrew Manze, whose own super-virtuoso flourishes occasionally teeter on the brink of excess. The music is so fresh-sounding that it sometimes seems almost improvised, as indeed some of it is -- Richard Egarr provides his own middle movement, a tasteful interlude for solo organ, for the delightful 6th Concerto.

The sound? Full, rich and dynamic. The lavishly produced package includes interesting liner notes by Richard Egarr. What else can I add?
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ray TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Richard Egarr's new recording of Handel's Concerti Grossi opus 3 with the Academy of Ancient Music is a welcome addition to the existing catalog of Handel performances. We are told that Egarr and the AAM are in the process of be releasing additional new Handel recordings, and if this example is representative of the one's to come, we can only look forward to these with the greatest of expectations.

Handel is greatly known for his famous "Messiah," and is perhaps most revered as an outstanding oratorio writer, but to explore his orchestral works - as few of these as there may be - can be a true joy. It is rumored that Beethoven viewed Handel as the world's greatest composer, particularly being impressed with Handel's ability to do a lot musically with a very small set of instruments. While the Concerti Grossi don't necessarily fit into the description of "small" in terms of their instrumental support, Handel's creative genius bursts forth in both the opus 3 (and even more so in the magnum opus 6). To know these pieces is probably to love them, and one can find oneself endlessly despaired that Handel did not develop more of these extraordinary pieces.

The Academy of Ancient Music, along with its memorable association with Christopher Hogwood, brought the world to understand anew the meaning of "original instruments" beginning in the 1980's. Scores and scores of these works were released by Hogwood and the AAM, most to critical acclaim. There is no question that this effort revolutionized our understanding of classical music, because it helped us to understand and differentiate what we hear in today's modern orchestral "sound" from what the composers heard (and intended) when they originally wrote their pieces.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 27, 2011
Format: MP3 Music
Admittedly, I am not classical music aficionado nor a trained sound engineer. But, I do know gorgeous music when I hear it, and this recording is overwhelmingly gorgeous, from first note to last.
Its brilliant quality is evident, perhaps foremost, in the sensitive and absolutely beautiful interpretation of the music itself; rendered by the Academy with an intuition and liquidity few other classical recordings can boast, as if the music were merely the plaything of their collective imagination. One can so easily forget that one is listening to music when this recording is playing, because the emotional heart of it so transparently shines through. There is no separation of the recording into its technical and other qualities. It stands whole and pure.
That said, if one really wants to, one may bend an ear to the sound quality itself, and be just as entranced. There is a warmth and a harmonious sheen, if you will, that simply brings joy.
I could go on, but the main point is that if you love classical music, especially Baroque, you owe it to yourself to buy this recording. It may become your "go to" -- as it has for me -- and bring a level of beauty and serenity to your life that perhaps few other recordings could.
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