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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SCHOLARS NOT PEDANTS
Andrew Manze writes nearly as well as he plays. The short essay he provides to accompany this disc is knowledgeable, clear and witty. Handel's instrumental music is a scholars' playground - he left, and very likely kept, no proper catalogue of it, and it falls to specialists to clarify as best they can which compositions going under his name are really his. What the...
Published on 28 April 2005 by DAVID BRYSON

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1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Performance
I thought this was good until I heard an unknown Russian violinist play a Handle sonata on youtube - now I realise these performances are way off the mark.
Published 1 month ago by Stuart Tomanek


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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SCHOLARS NOT PEDANTS, 28 April 2005
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
Andrew Manze writes nearly as well as he plays. The short essay he provides to accompany this disc is knowledgeable, clear and witty. Handel's instrumental music is a scholars' playground - he left, and very likely kept, no proper catalogue of it, and it falls to specialists to clarify as best they can which compositions going under his name are really his. What the artists here give us is 7 complete sonatas and one that is presumably complete, plus two stranded individual movements. Of the 8 'complete' efforts 5, including the presumed-complete G major, seem to be definitely by Handel. Two sets of 12 'violin' sonatas were published by one Walsh, one under his own name and the other under the pseudonym 'Roger'. The works they contain do not exactly match up, and I would have liked the contents of each plus the contents of this disc laid out as a table so as to be completely clear about the issue. The best piece of all, placed first in this recital, seems to belong in neither edition, and the most original and unusual, placed second, is of doubtful attribution.
The players' style is all-the-way authentic. Full details of the 18th century instruments, plus a fascinating picture of the violin-maker's workshop, are provided on pages 12-13 of the booklet, and Manze goes into the question of the proper constitution of the continuo or accompaniment. I found that I adapted to the sound of the violin within seconds. There's a fair amount of action-noise from the harpsichord, but authentic is authentic, so I adapted to that too. The playing seems to me beyond criticism, full of verve in the fast movements and soul in the slow, and the recorded sound is of the highest modern standard. The works themselves are beautiful and fascinating. I wonder in particular whether Handel wrote the first movement of the F major sonata, and if not who did. It is not only an exceptional piece but decades ahead of its time, as Manze rightly says.
The production is fairly de luxe, containing not only an expensively printed booklet but also a full colour catalogue of Harmonia Mundi's current offerings. The set has won critical acclaim, which I endorse wholeheartedly, and it can be recommended without qualification to all Handelians and indeed to the music-loving public generally.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect simplicity, 2 Jun 2008
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Jon Chambers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
There's certainly nothing overblown about Andrew Manze's style of playing. The best known of these sonatas by Handel is the Sonata in D Opus 1 No 13 which opens the recording. To some ears, Manze's tone might be too cool and spare - in the opening measures particularly. But to my mind, the sound he creates is perfectly suited to the demands of these small-scale, occasional chamber pieces of the early C18.

As Manze's illuminating essay that accompanies the CD makes clear, only five of the eight complete sonatas on the disc are now thought to be authentically Handelian. The others were probably passed off as Handel's by unscrupulous publishing houses cashing in on a big name. It might be seen, therefore, as a wonderful opportunity to play the musicologist and 'spot the fake'. Rather than agonising about such things as authenticity, however, it is surely best simply to enjoy the quality of music on offer, regardless of authorship. (Especially so, perhaps, given that experts have been in conspicuous lack of agreement themselves.) In terms of compositional quality and performance, everything here is enriching. Committed, talented playing, lively and inventive writing, faultless recording.

The emphasis throughout is on unpretentious, sincerely presented music-making that is a joy to listen to and (evidently) to play. The pieces are relatively undemanding technically - certainly when compared to Bach's solo violin works or the more pyrotechnical of Vivaldi's sonatas. They are equally unsophisticated artistically, like the final Allegro of the Sonata in F, which could have been inspired by a piece of popular music, with its delightfully simple melodic line. All in all, this is wonderful music played just as it should be. And at a ridiculous price!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable playing, 20 Mar 2008
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William Burn "gingerburn" (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
The other reviewer of this disc does an excellent job of reviewing many of the features of this outstanding disc, but I feel they miss out on what is perhaps the most important part of any musical performance: the playing. And that is what draws me back, time and again, to this wonderful CD. Manze and Egarr bring the music to life in the most remarkable fashion, with flair, musicality and passion. But above all it is Richard Egarr who astonishes me with the sheer beauty of his harpsichord playing. Quite how he achieves the range of colours he does is beyond me entirely, and it is hard to believe he is playing an instrument which generates sound by twanging a string. Stunning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars decent but missing Handel's grandeur, 25 Jun 2011
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rc_rc (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
decent and musical, a little superficial and fleeting tho, I recommend Menuhin's old set (part of an EMI box of menuhin conducting and performing Handel, a bargain), or Kurosaki on virgin - B003XSXLMK - on perido instruments with William Christie on Harpsichord

If you like Manze you will give this 5 stars, if you see his common failings of lack of depth and over-virtuosity at the expense of line, then you will prefer these other performers that I have mentioned, that bring more warmth, line and grandeur.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Handel to adore!, 12 Mar 2014
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R. Harvey - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
I love this CD!
Violin; A beautifully luscious though restrained sound gives a perfect nod to both authentic and modern playing, with a fairly sparse but effective vibrato. The more modern attack might put off some 'authenticates', though this is poles apart from the 'classic' concert violinist interpretation, slaughtering this superb music with over-virtuosity and sentimentality. The playing here is tasteful, inventive, and communicative.
Harpsichord; Again, inventive and tasteful playing, with the level of communication with the soloist deeply apparent throughout.
Recording; This leads to my only (slight) gripe. Having achieved such an intimate reading I would have preferred a less ambient recording, and I would also have liked the harpsichord a little up in the mix.
Overall though this is a 'must have', even if you have another recording of these sonatas in your collection.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Performance, 21 Feb 2014
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Stuart Tomanek (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
I thought this was good until I heard an unknown Russian violinist play a Handle sonata on youtube - now I realise these performances are way off the mark.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performances!, 5 April 2013
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Mr. T. Gerard Dixon "archimedes" (Hingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
I originally bought it for the G-minor sonata because my daughter was going to play its first movement at a music festival and I wanted her to"sense" the tempo at which it was played. I know that, metronomically speaking, there is always a small variation for any stated tempo. It worked well for her.
Then I listened to the cd for myself and enjoyed the whole disc, even where the copious and erudite notes pointed out those sonatas which may not have been Handel's own.
A worthwhile listening experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally fine performances of somewhat neglected music, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
Manze and Egarr seem to inspire each other in these pieces., with Egarr's playing every bit the equal of Manze's. No violinist could ask for a better continuo player. There ARE a few other performances on CD of some of this music but I doubt there is one to equal the playing of Manze and Egarr. It will be hard enough for other players to equal Manze and Egarr, never mind beat them. A really beautiful recording, an absolute must for Handel fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 21 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
This work is a perfect example of the majesty of Andre Manze. He is joined by the superb Richard Egarr, whose harpsichord playing is at it's most sublime, elegant and delicate. Harmonia Mundi once again have produced another recording, which as expected is faultless. It must be noted, that the notes researched and prepared by AM, afford us a better understanding of these works and hence their ultimate enjoyment. No library of Handel shall be complete, unless this work is part of it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's rediscover Handel, 12 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Handel - Complete Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
For reasons that have little to do with Handel's music or even music in general Handel has suffered through history a tremendous injustice and his works have been reduced to just a few titles in spite of the fact he is the greatest English composer and one of the finest in Europe. And he is still today unjustly treated. For example, his Agrippina opear has two male altos and one male soprano, but a recent DVD recording of a recent production of this opera in Amsterdam only keeps one male alto and replaces the other male alto and the male soprano with women. Handel took advantage of the absolute freedom that had come on the English stage after the Glorious Revolution. Of course we have to quote Purcell and Bow as the precursors or pioneers in that field, Handel being the one who did not have to fight, at least too much for the freedom of the composer in eighteenth century England. But what was most kept unknown was his operas, both religious of some type or other and secular. It's only recently that we have been in the systematic process of rediscovering his operatic works. But Handel had the chance of having composed a lot of instrumental music too, and that music was kept alive all the time, and these violin sonatas are one set of works that has been played and performed all along the last three centuries, and they are worth it through and through. Some pieces are definitely as good as Mozart's compositions or other composers of that time's works. It is music for the King's chamber but it is also music for any slightly musically literate person who can do what's best with chamber music, enjoy it, and it is highly enjoyable because of the high level of expression and even emotion in the rendering of it by the interpreters. The choice to accompany the violin with a harpsichord, though it is in perfect agreement with Handel's time is maybe slightly too contrastive since the harpsichord and the violin have two ways of, using their strings. I just wonder if a cello, the other way of accompanying the violin in these pieces, would not have been more unifying, the violin melting into the cello and the cello absorbing the violin. I guess that is a question of personal vision, contrast versus union. But the present recording does perfect justice to both the violin, the star, and the harpsichord, the alter ego. But we cannot really play king, as the accompanying booklet suggests because the instruments are not from that eighteenth century, since they are modern. The violin particularly would have been more intimate, maybe slightly more veiled and it could have been slightly more in the line of Vivaldi, whose influence is quite audible here and there. But some of these sonatas are so well known, even famous, that we are moved deeply by the infinite array of associations we remember and recollect. It is amazing how much some of that music has been present in our lives, often without even us knowing it. In one word then a brilliant recording.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID
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