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Handel: Water Music Suites I and II, Music for the Royal Fireworks Hybrid SACD, SACD

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Handel: Water Music Suites I and II, Music for the Royal Fireworks
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  • Bach: The Six Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046 - BWV 1051 (Le Concert Des Nations)
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  • Purcell: Fantasias for the Viols
Total price: £37.35
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Le Concert des Nations
  • Conductor: Jordi Savall
  • Composer: Georg Friedrich Handel
  • Audio CD (26 May 2008)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Alia Vox
  • ASIN: B0015KGJMM
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,892 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Water Music and Fireworks Music are some of the best pieces of light music ever written. Both were for outdoor events, and while the precise arrangement for the Fireworks is known, that for the Water Music on the day of the Royal progression up the Thames is not. Savall breaks from what has become the established order, which somehow spoils the symmetry of the piece (but that may be only my not being used to it). The individual pieces are splendidly played, although again I was surprised to hear timpani in the Water Music, something I've never heard before, and which to me somehow doesn't quite fit. My choice for the Water Music would still be the brilliant Pinnock 1983 recording for Archiv, but this is worth a second (and third, and fourth..) listen.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8cad6f6c) out of 5 stars 15 reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c93e3c0) out of 5 stars One of the best versions ever 20 Aug. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This version might not surpass Hogwood for some of you but in my opinion this version outscores them ALL.
This is the most brilliant, clear recorded version ever out there. Fantastic brass.
Conducting, music (extremly good performed by all), tempi, sound is astonishing in its professional perfection and it is joyful and personal in every sence.
Grammohone rank this set overall very high and in fact rank Music for the royal fireworks as the best version ever and I understand why.
So buy it and enjoy
P.S check out Savalls versions of Bachs 6 Brandenburg concerti and Orchestral suites too because they also are extremly good.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ce14754) out of 5 stars Extraordinary! - Another Savall Success 7 Aug. 2008
By ClassicalMusicLover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Here we have the second reissue of, by far, the best performance of Handel's Water Music and Fireworks music to be found anywhere! At the time of this writing the first re-issue of this recording is selling for $224 here on Amazon just to show you how valued this performance is. Here the Alia Vox engineer, Nicolas de Beco, has taken this 16 bit 44.1 kHz sampled recording from 1993 and re-mastered it into a suburb surround (multi-channel 5.0) SACD. No information is given as to weather this was an original multi-channel recording or if DSP was employed to add the additional channels, but the results are superb! This transfer makes this recording even more attractive than the original which was already at the top of its class. My only wish is that Jordi Savall would have re-recording this music in true high definition SACD sound which would have made this recording even more attractive. What makes Jordi Savall's performance so much better is that it shows the joy of the occasion much better than any other performance I've heard. Some might find his pacing a little fast, but I find it exciting and thrilling.

IN COMPARISON TO OTHER SACD RECORDINGS
I have other SACD recordings of Handel's Water Music and Fireworks music but they pale in comparison to Jordi Savall's joyful performance. For instance the Aradia Ensemble on a Naxos SACD is one of the worst recordings I've ever heard. The problem with the Aradia Ensemble recording is that the engineers placed the microphones too far from the orchestra so it seems as if the listener is sitting at the back of the church. I don't know about you, but if I pay premium prices for an SACD I want a front row seat or even a seat in the middle of the orchestra, but not a seat 100 feet away! This recording is also plagued by a boring performance from the Acadia Ensemble. The other Handel Water and Fireworks music on SACD is the one by L'Art Dell Arco on CPO that just came out. This performance is good but again the recording engineers have ruined this SACD by choosing an acoustically dead venue to record in!

CONCLUSION
Thank God Jordi Savall's recording was made in the acoustically rich sounding Chateau de Cardona and Jordi's group gives a passionate performance. Listen to the Bourree from the second suite (Track 19) and you'll find one of the most delectable gems of this performance. Also, the brass is particularly gorgeous in this recording. THIS IS A MUST HAVE SACD!

FYI - I'm still waiting for a new multi-channel SACD recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons from Jordi Savall. That would be the ultimate!!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8cd228c4) out of 5 stars Excellent 13 Sept. 2008
By Teemacs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These are two of the most brilliant pieces of light music ever written, and are particular favourites of mine. I'm a big devotee of Pinnock's 1983 Water Music and my favourite Fireworks goes back to the old Jean-François Paillard all-wind version of about a million years ago. So now along comes something to challenge them both. While I'd hesitate to label these versions as "the best", they are certainly right up there with the leaders.

This recording is about 15 years old, but has been remastered and issued on hybrid CD-SACD. It really is rather good, nicely played and crisply recorded, the original instruments caught very nicely.

I shall need some time to get used to the Water Music. Why? Because it is quite a different arrangement. For a long time, only Sir Hamilton Harty's (shortened) arrangement was played, and then, with the upsurge in interest in baroque music in the 1960s, this was filled out with other bits, until there emerged a new "standard" version (the one used by nearly all the more recent versions, including Pinnock). This is the one I'm used to, and to hear the bits I think of as "the end" coming at the beginning is slightly disconcerting. Of course, nobody knows exactly what was played on that day, and it is likely that different suites (sharing some material) were played at different parts of the King's aquatic excursion. So, this version is as "correct" as any other. And of course the individual bits are marvellous, no matter what the order. Another slightly disconcerting thing; I've never before heard a Water Music with timpani, which, to me, don't go so well with the dances (gavottes, bourrées and hornpipes) which make up the suites.

The order for the Fireworks is well known, the only problem being, strings or no strings? The original was all "military" instruments (the King's express wish), but Handel added strings to later performing versions. It all bounces along nicely, with the centrepiece, "La Réjouissance" being particularly effective.

Highly recommended.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ce892f4) out of 5 stars could have been better, but still brilliant 27 Sept. 2005
By Leonardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I think these pieces are a kind of portrait of how good is a chamber orchestra, specially on period instruments. Why? because if it is going to be played as the pieces deserve,it should be with passion, complete understanding od baroque musical codes (eg ornamentation, phrasing) and the utmost virtuosism. I don't play music but I feel ther horn parts must be extraordinarily difficult played without valves. So how does this recording stand against competition (Gardiner, Harnoncourt, Orpheus Chamber orch, boston baroque, tafelmusik, marriner 71'and 93', mackerras, pinnock, leppard, etc)?

Well, I have heard samples of Pinnock. Good, of course, but always typically "Brithish" that is to say, refined, trying to rescue the kindness instead of vital pulse. My first experience of these pieces was Leppard. Great recording. still many numbers are very good: vital, warm, with "period" ornamentations. A pity some numbers (eg "Air" of 1st suite) sound very old fashioned. So not a definitive recording. Orpheus chamber orchestra. I have reviewed. Modern intruments, but with "period" conventions. The problem is that they seem at times so unmusical... fast tempi when there should have been more pomp, some "flat", insensitive passages ... as I have said, "plastic Handel". Gardiner is very good but uneven, I think Fireworks deserves more majesty. Tafelmusic's watermusic have the same deffects of their "Brandenburgs": an american version of Pinnock, sorry listen to the trumpets and see how flat they are ... not a first choice. Boston Baroque I don't know.

So I keep with ... Savall and marriner. I don't know Marrienr 71' (Decca) but I love Marriner 93' (hanssler). Yes, modern instruments and some "period" conventions like Orpheus flawed recording, but here we have a great musician who has made an "uptade" in period practice but keeping that approach under the control of a extraordinary understanding of what music is about, no matter instruments. His reading is faster than Savall, I think because he takes fewer repeats. His string body is far larger, but warm and sounds "comfortable", gives a sense of "orchestral" music instead of "chamber" but at the same time flexible and transparent. Great ornamentations, and surprising instrumentations (remember there is not an autograph score, so conductors not allways agree on how to score a piece), eg in Fiirewok's Overture in the beggining of the fast section some wind passages usually played also with strings but here absent, so it achieves more variety. Overall, his strong musicianship makes a very pleasant tour of these peaces, and is a perfect example of how to be HIP without falling in the trap of "you have to imitate Kuijken and use his instruments in order to properly play Baroque".

But here I speak of savall and although I love Marriner 93' well, period instruments have great advantages in term of sonority. Period brass are simply wonderfull and no player of ASMIF can imitate the rustic sound of an ancient horn. And savall takes advantage of his excellent orchestra eg in Fireworks where period brass are pulled to their limits. Or listen to the horns of "lentement" in water music and see in terms of sound he has no competitiion of such quality. Tempi are fluid, moderate to very fast (eg the "serious" minuet of the traditional flute suite of water music), but allways musical, nothing seems unduly fast. So he achieves variety in the character of the pieces as no British conductor can.

The order of the pieces is different, he combines trumpet suite and flute suite unto 1, and leaves the horn suite as another entity. As I said there is no "Holy Score" (autograph) so it is valid and works well, but does not give an advantage of traditional editions. So here virtues, enough perhaps to make your reference choice: period instruments superbly played, a mixture of passion and elegance, control and "joy-de-vivre" (well said?). But there are some minuses: the recording is very long, because savall takes as many repeats as possible. How otherwise can justify he needs 74 min when marriner needs 63, gardiner 68 (with extra movs) and Norrington 68 (please don't !!)? in some places I think music is very repetitive but depends on your taste. And I think he is inconsistent on ornamentation. Yes, of course adds ornaments to the oboe solo of 1st or the trumpet and horn in the reprise of the hornpipe of 3rd but there are places where marriner surprises you and savall is litteral to the score. Perhaps I was expecting a bit more of imagination. That's why none of both recordings I highlited are reference per se, but must be enjoyed together. Don't miss any of them!! Both are od consistent high quality.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8cd27dd4) out of 5 stars Absolutely vibrant and 'spine-tingling' performance not to be missed! 9 April 2009
By Giradman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Well, I just cannot understand a 2* rating for this magnificent performance - the recording dates from 1993 and has been re-mastered several times, this issue w/ SACD; I do not own a SACD player so comments are based on listening to the regular CD layer. I have a number of versions of this music (and have 'culled out' others from my collection over the years), but must say that this is the most vibrant and dynamic performance that I've ever heard; now this may be 'disturbing' to those expecting a more mellow approach, but when this music was performed initially, Handel wanted ALL to hear it, and Savall comes through with much vigor.

David Vernier from ClassicsToday has reviewed several of these re-releases, and just a sentence quoted: "Literally bursting with energy, scintillating strings, blazing horns, and incisive winds, and never boring even for one second, these performances give you Handel at his most exciting." He gave this performance a 10/10 rating for performance & sound - but I must warn that if you plan to listen to this disc at a high volume, then put on your seat belt! Enjoy.
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