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Handel - Organ Concertos Op 4
Format: Audio CDChange
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2008
This is the second CD the Academy of Ancient Music's have released in the aim to record Op.1 to 7 by 2009 (the 250th anniversary of Handel's death). The Organ Concertos Op.4 have proven a slightly controversial recording, however. There was a cross exchange of printed words between David Vickers and the conductor, Richard Egarr, as they did not see eye-to-eye about the appropriate level of ornamentation that should be applied to organ. Egarr bases much of his `twiddly bits' on an `original' 18th-century recording on a barrel organ in Kent, England. This, it is thought, may have been programmed on to the cylinders by John Christopher Smith, Handel's companion and right-hand man in the last 30 years of his life. While this seems a fair, and unique, source for Egarr, Vickers was less sure of its validity...

Anyway, to the results. The are different from traditional (sic) modern recordings. The organ is soft (tuned in an `English' manner) and this makes the concertos less grand, almost slightly woolly! Once you get used to this completely different style and sound of the playing, however, this CD has a lot of delights to offer. The organ playing is light, gamely and delicious, and the strings are sharp and full (as can be expected of natural strings).

This is a challenging set of Organ Concertos to listen to - they seem so different. But listen on and I hope, like myself, you find them compulsive and very enjoyable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I have struggled with Handel's Organ Concertos up till now but this recording showed me at last what they are about and allowed me to really enjoy them for the first time. One of my many personal failings is that I don't much care for organ music as a rule, so that even Trevor Pinnock's recordings left me rather cold (the only one of Pinnock's recordings which has ever done so), and it says a lot for Richard Egarr that I love this disc.

The musicianship of both Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music is outstanding. They are delightfully supple in the livelier movements and manage to give Handel's slower, more serious passages real weight and gravitas without ever becoming ponderous. It is exemplary Handel playing to my ears. What makes a huge difference for me, too, is that Egarr's organ sound is quite light which gives an excellent balance to the music and allows the organ to sound like an instrument playing the solo part of a concerto rather than a huge, dominant machine with a few other instruments feebly chiming inround the edges, and the excellent recorded sound catches this balance beautifully and makes the whole thing shine.

My response to this disc is a very personal one and I recognise that lovers of organ music may have different views on the matter - I know, for example, that ornamentation is a very contentious issue here. As a lover of Handel, though, I am very grateful to Richard Egarr for showing this non-aficionado of the organ what wonderful music this is and I warmly recommend this disc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2011
There is only question which version of this recording to add to your collection. Richard Egarr and the AAM together with Harmonia Mundi present us with the answer here. When I listen to English organs, I am struck by the softness of their tones, and it is this that Handel had in mind when he composed these works. Thus we witness the triumph of Egarr as he plays to the strengths of the Robin Jennings organ. His interpretation of Handel's work, is as George Frideric would have played himself. Richard's meticulous and impeccable research has made this possible for us to enjoy. Together with the wonderful members of the Academy of Ancient Music, they deliver to us a palette of music, of a beautiful rich texture, which wraps itself around you in a cocoon.
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