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A generally enjoyable representative selection of pieces - at a very attractive price. The Collegium Aureum recordings of Op 3 and Op 6 have been around for some time - which is no criticism. They are more relaxed in style than would usually be the case now. But that makes them an enjoyable alternative to the, often too hard-driven, competition, quite delightful in their way - warm, engaging, and (thankfully) with a string tone that is not in the least strident. The solo sonatas are completely engaging, played with energy and imagination. The solo instruments - recorder, flute, and oboe - are delightfully colourful, again without being as 'edgy' some alternatives. How wonderfully well Handel wrote for the oboe! Sadly, I'm no great fan of John Eliot Gardiner - the Water Music included here is an early(-ish) recording (1980) with a superb line-up of players - the result is 'good in parts': the playing itself superb and exciting - but the recording is odd, contriving to be both too reverberant and yet with a hard, strident edge, especially to the strings. Not a pleasant listen. From 10 years later comes the recording of Rodelinda, the recorded sound is far superior to that of the Water Music. Being unfamiliar with the piece I can't comment with any degree of knowledge, other than to say the cast may be expected to provide a high standard of performance, the orchestral playing is completely engaging and a sheer joy. A bit of a mixed bag, but overall a more than worthwhile venture.
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A strange assembly of Handel performances with no apparent link - I suppose the motives for it must have to do with copyright.
We get the Op 3 & Op 6 Concerti Grossi in the by now rather antique Collegium Aureum performances; the Op 1 Solo Sonatas from Camerata Koln; Gardiner's first Water Music; and the Michael Schnieder "Rodelinda".
Even at £1 per disc I cannot recommend this to Handel beginners, who I take to be the target audience of the set. The Concerti Grossi are not bad, but there are far better versions (Manze, Besnosiuk): the Solo Sonatas are dull in every sense - the Hyperion Set is much preferable, but still dull: Gardiner is Gardiner, but you wouldn't buy the set just for his disc: and the `Rodelinda' is grim, badly recorded and sung.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Release of Some Relatively Rare Handel Pieces from Sony's Catalogue13 Mar. 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
What will interest most Handel and Baroque lovers here is not strictly the technical aspects of the performances and recordings, but rather the ability to pick up some of the more unusual Handel works that are not as commonly seen or found in most Handel box sets. Included here are the more well known Concerto Grossi opus 3 and opus 6 works (among Handel's greatest compositional achievements), as well as the highly famous Water Music, but the set also includes the lesser known Concertos for Woodwind Instruments (transverse flute, oboe, and recorder). Even more rare to find, however, is Handel's Rodelinda, which is included here on the last three disks of the set (there are ten CD's in all in this set). The releases here are all originally from Deutche Harmonia Mundi, and are now being distributed here as part of Sony's larger process of re-releasing its large collection of classical holdings that now holds the rights to these recordings.
It's not by any means an inexpensive set, but its historical significance will be of importance to anyone wishing to pick up the more unusual works, or even those wishing to get a different set of the Concerto Grossi opus 3/6 performances. (If, however, you are looking for more modern, state-of-the-art performances and recordings of these major works, a better choice would be George Frideric Handel: Concerti Grossi Opus 6 and Handel: Concerti Grossi, Op. 3 / Sonata a 5.) Most Handel aficionados will relish the chance to investigate these older recordings of somewhat unusual pieces.