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Water Music / Music for the Royal Fireworks

8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 17, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Brimming with exhilarating dance tunes and colourful sonorities, Handel' Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks are his two most popular orchestral works. They were composed, respectively, for royal water parties on the River Thames in August 17

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There's no dearth of fine recordings of these works on the market, but this recording goes straight to the top of the list. Kevin Mallon leads a Toronto-based, 34-person-group of period instrumentalists called the Aradia Ensemble: it's a terrific, ear opening show. The music is, above all, joyful, with dance movements galore and plenty of giddy pomp. Mallon has rethought the tempi, almost all of which, he feels, should be quicker than we're accustomed to hearing. These tempi work most of the time, and if, for example, you overlook the fact that at his tempi, the alla hornpipe of the Water Music Suite No. 2 and the Rigaudon of No. 3 could only have been danced by a dancer on speed, and just listen to how effortlessly entertaining the music is, you'll love it. He's not rigid in his fleetness, however--the final movement of Water Music Suite No. 1 is relaxed and he slows it down even further for its last few seconds, giving it the stature it requires.

Mallon also adds side-drum and tambourines to a couple of the movements, and they add jollity and jauntiness; only a whiner would object. When the trumpets and horns ring out they don't blare and say, in La Paix from the Royal Fireworks Music, when he uses transverse flutes (as suggested in the original manuscript but never before recorded that way), the effect is magical, rather than just mellow. Try the overture of the Royal Fireworks, with brass blasting, drums being banged with wooden-headed sticks, but all at a military tempo that implies forward propulsion rather than combative stodginess. This is both a bargain and a terrific reading. --Robert Levine


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Product Details

  • Performer: Aradia Ensemble
  • Conductor: Kevin Mallon
  • Composer: George Frederick Handel
  • Audio CD (January 17, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000CEVU5I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,962 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Erik Homenick on June 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This has got to be one of the finest recordings available of Handel's famous WATER MUSIC and MUSIC FOR THE ROYAL FIREWORKS.

Performing on period instruments, the top-notch Aradia Ensemble, under the inspired direction of Irishman Kevin Mallon, delivers a recording that is a much needed breath of fresh air for admirers of this familiar music.

Citing the "lugubriousness" of other recordings, Mallon speeds up the tempi for both the WATER MUSIC and ROYAL FIREWORKS making those scores spring to life like never before. The quicker tempi may not sit well with some so-called purists, but only the most rigid won't be happily tapping their feet while listening. (Much of this is dance music, after all!)

To augement the period authenticity of the music, Mallon, in a stroke of artistic brilliance, adds purcussion to several tracks of this recording.(During Handel's time, it was common practice to include percussion in dances and overtures.) You've never heard a more rousing OVERTURE from THE ROYAL FIREWORKS until you've heard it with those regally pounding drums.

Additionally, this is the first recodring of FIREWORKS to properly include a transverse flute. The effect, of course, is pure magic and again lends an air of authenticity.

To top it all of, the great sound engineer, Norbert Kraft, has done it again for Naxos. The sound here is rich and natural, as is usally the case for this label.

Enthusiastically recommended for those who want to hear two well-known pieces again for the first time.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By sal on May 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
For years I've had the CD of these Handel compositions, recorded by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. That CD won a rosette from the Penguin Guide to Classical Music, but I couldn't stand listening to it anymore. The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performance of these compositions was almost too-perfect and I found it seemed boring and too-structured.

Enter this recording, which I learned of when looking at things over at the Arkiv Music website. This recording on the Naxos label was a minimal investment (Naxos is a super resource for great music at low cost). What a delight to find such a high quality recording, played in a fresh and beautiful way. No, it is not note-perfect as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra plays it. But, it is lovely and refreshing to hear, a delightful experience that has life rather than mechanical reproduction of notes. An excellent investment!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ross Kennett on February 5, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I ordered this CD before its release after hearing part of it on the car radio, and was so delighted with it that I told anyone who might listen. So it was a bit of a relief to read reviews such as the one above by Robert Levine. It is great to hear this fine music played with such joy and innovation, they dance through the dance movements, and sometimes add drum and tambourine. If you can hear this Fireworks Music, what a grand joyfull noise they make, without beating on your imaginary timpani and side drum, then there is a chance you might be dead.

This is an excellent recording of excellent music at a super-bargain price, very highly recommended. Look out for other period instrument recordings by Mallon and the Aradia Ensemble.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Trtek on October 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD
There are a lot of good recordings of both Handel's Water Music and his Music for the Royal Fireworks lurking out there -- renditions by The English Concert, Tafelmusik and the venerable Collegium Aureum, among others. Oh, and vintage Marriner and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields for modern instrument versions. This disc easily joins that elite bunch with rousing and well-played performances of these Baroque musical icons. Suffice it to say the Water Music is played with exquisite smoothness while the Fireworks Music is loaded with punch and percussion. The coupling of the two and the Naxos price make this album almost impossible to beat. Highly recommended.
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