..I'm afraid I'm a bit of a nutter when it comes to Handel's Organ Concertos. I now own several different performances, including some from Karl Richter's 1959 Teldec performances.
But this "Archiv" 3 CD set is FIRMLY within the '1st-class' category! (My other favourite being on the 'Berlin Classics/Edel' label; an excellent 3 x CD, 1975 ADD recording, featuring an east-German virtuoso, Johannes-Ernst Kohler & The Thuringian Chamber Orchestra of Weimer.)
These English performances are all 1984 DDD. It may be 'early' digital sound (remastered incidentally on this 3-CD album) BUT, they were also recorded by 'Deutsche Gramophon', so it's a MOST superior & wondrous recording - spatial yet subtle in its recorded sound! Every instrumental nuance is heard and these performances speaks into a marvellous acoustic.
Add to this, period-instrument performance c/o The English Concert Orchestra (directed from the Harpsichord by Trevor Pinnock) - with Simon Preston using two organs*, and they amount to sonically thrilling.
Two period organs are used: one is a restored, smaller instrument, found the 'Finchcocks Museum Collection of Historic Musical Instruments' for Handel's Opus 4 concertos. Next, a (also restored) larger, period 1789-91, English church organ in Armitage Staffordshire. for the Opus 7 concertos - and Concertos 13, 14 & 15. Collectively, they sound marvellous - and Simon Preston wrings wondrous sounds from them, esp. the larger instrument.
The liner notes are scholarly, providing me with some fresh information on Handel's organ concertos; esp. numbers 14, 15 & the spurious "No.16."
Finally, be aware that the last Opus 4 concerto/no 6, is played on a period Harp, as Handel originally wrote it for this instrument.
A most vibrant, glorious and quite simply beautiful production of Handel's complete Organ Concerti. The genius Mr Simon Preston bowls me over every time, such is his mastery of the keyboard, accompanied by the ever excellent The English Concert under the baton of the equally talented Trevor Pinnock. Any fan of Handel, or classical music in general, would be wise to have this set amongst their collection. Truly delightful!