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Handel: Water Music; Music For The Royal Fireworks

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 13, 1992
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Product Details

  • Performer: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (October 13, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GG0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,206 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Timothy Mikolay on May 14, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I have Charles McKerras' fantastic all woodwind perf on vinyl of this music and as much as I enjoy it, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra does bring a certain amount of refinement and dash the forementioned doesn't.
I remember being in tears the first time I heard this disc in a huge CD store in Milano, Italy. It seems almost hushed at first compared to all the other bombastic discs of these works, but this is where it wins. The clarity of the inner voices and the concise and vibrant contrapuntal work are just a few of the accolades I give this CD. This collection of Handel's genius is graceful, shimmering and wonderfully played and would be a noble addition to anyone's listening library.
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By Leonardo on September 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
... not definitive. A much better rendition can be found in Savall's set.

Why I am telling this? At first hearing this is a quite enjoyable recording. There is great clarity (surely a very small orchestra), good articulation and many times a sense of freedom expressed in clever improvisation in many places (the flute parts are remarkable in this aspect).

In general the aproach is energetic and light. BUT ...

sometimes I found them playing mechanically. And some arrangments (eg the first suite's hornpipe and bourre)are boring, lacking variety.

This, together with a truly lack of grandeur, I would say "majesty", aparts them from beeing a serious competitive reading. Listen to "Fireworks": the timpani parts are so boring: they don't join the tuttis like the Gardiner set, so you find silences that spoils the "majesty" I expressed before. And there are not other percussion instruments (listen to Leppard).

Another example? look at the overure of suite 1. I don't think that Gardiner is the best but he really adds a sense of "theatre" that is absent in this set: Look at sincopation in Gardiner's hands that is replaced by stupid thrills by the Orpheans musicians: it's obvious that Handel is thinking in a solemn begginning of an Opera, when the curtain rises and the public is eager to listen to dramma and emotions. It's also obvious that the Orpheans never went to an Opera theater, judging from this absolutely superficial passage.

It's like Handel made of plastic. Light, sound pleasing, but superficial.
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Format: Audio CD
I first heard this recording of Water Music on NPR and knew immediately that I must have it! The tempo, the phrasing, the orchestration--it's all just perfect. As a former trombone player, I cannot imagine an all woodwind version of this piece. The Orpheus brass sound wonderful!

I haven't listened to many other versions of these pieces, but I cannot imagine anyone being dissatisfied with this one.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Those listeners who prefer modern insturments over their "period" forebears heard in such excellent recordings as those by Pinnock and others may like this disc by the conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchesta. Ironically, the Orpheus uses more ornamentation than any "period" recording I'm aware of, which is the main reason I purchased this disc, and even though the playing may be occasionally a bit lacking in personality, this disc is more than able to hold its own in a crowded market. I particularly like the trumpet cadenza in the measures leading up to the allegro of the Fireworks Music's Overture, and much of the Water Music is really lively. I assume the ornaments were written out, but it sounds as if the players were allowed to improvise some of them, and they all work together as if playing chamber music. Very entertaining.
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By itself, this is very good, and if I had only this cd and had never heard another, than I would be happy with it. But of course I have heard others and the one by Pinnock has a verve this never comes close to. In the slower pieces, such as the wonderfully done Minuet in g from the #3 suite, Orpheus gives themselves free improvisation that give beautiful results, this is hearing the middle/trio section for the first time. But in the extrovert pieces, such as the Fireworks Overture (just listen to this on both versions), Pinnock achieves a grandeur and excitement that gets me jumping in my seat. :) I like this Orpheus disc, but over and over I come back to the Pinnock.
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I don't like this version of Water Music quite as well as a version I bought on vinyl 20 years ago. It's too fast; it sounds a little spastic in comparision to the stately earlier version. That version seemed in tune with the rhythm of my heart beat and was great to use as a background for studying and doing household chores, as well as just sitting and listening to it in order to unwind from a stressful day, whereas I feel that this version is trying to hurry me faster than I can go.
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Format: Audio CD
Whenever I listen to this timeless music by Handel, it always puts me in a pleasant mood, even when I'm having a rough day. Handel had a knack for composing subtle yet uplifting melodies that stay in your head long after you have turned your stereo off. The Suite in G Major is particularly beautiful. While this recording is not one of the more definitive versions available, if you are just getting interested in classical music, this disc is a perfect introduction to some the greatest music from the Baroque era!
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