Philips offers a comprehensive overview of the works of George Frideric Handel, featuring a variety of conductors (Marriner, Maazel, Colin Davis, etc.) This 2-CD set includes 43 tracks spanning over 2.5 hours, and provides an excellent introduction to Handel. The "hits" are here: "Solomon - Arrival of the Queen of Sheba," "Water Music," "Messiah," and "Music for the Royal Fireworks." Equally impressive are (relatively) lesser known works such as "Chaconne in G," "Zadok the Priest - Coronation Anthem," and "Serse - Largo."
Handel's versatility will astound the novice listener. His compositional virtuosity and ingenuity transcend a variety of arrangements and tone colors, including works for full orchestra, chamber pieces, oratorios, and music for harp, piano, organ and guitar.
The recordings are top-notch and the performances are consistently excellent. Despite spanning nearly three decades of recorded works, the production values are remarkably cohesive; this compilation is a masterpiece of digital mastering.
If you're willing to invest a little extra money and time to familiarize yourself with one of the all-time great composers, "The Best of Handel" will reward you with years of enjoyment. I was a casual fan of Handel before receiving this CD as a gift nearly four years ago. Now, Handel ranks as one of my favorites (along with Beethoven, Bach and Chopin) - thanks largely to this brilliant compilation.