As a recent convert to modern instrument baroque performance after an indigestion
of period practices in the 90's I was inestimably thrilled by the magnificent
music making that permeates this wonderful disc. It is indeed tribute to
the outstanding perception of Dr Fred Hamel and the tragically short-lived
Fritz Lehmann, a conductor of outstanding capabilities who was to shine through
the 50's era. These early 50's recordings are full of character and poise,
dashing allegros and stately menuets rub shoulders with frequent intimacy,
all is a complete example of Handelian joie de vivre at its best.
Clarity of strings and delectable woodwinds are a constant feature of this
Water Music with some wonderfully trenchant minuets and a rousing Overture
that has the BPO in bubbly and infectious mood. This geniality flows throughout
the twenty odd movements of this wonderful Water Music that should take its
place as one of the most desirable ever. I found myself completely amazed
by the hallowed clarity of the recording, although it is in mono all definitions
are perfectly delineated. With the Fireworks Music Lehmann and the BPO are
really on home ground.
The notes explain Lehman's connection with the Gottingen Festival and the
celebratory pomp of this suite is unforgettable for its exhaustive spirit
and infectious vitality. The expansive Overture has some grand moments but
when the allegros come in, they are really magnificent. Just sample the closing
Menuet II for pomp and pageantry with a swift tempo, the sense of occasion
is indeed quite irresistible. There have been many good indeed some outstanding
recordings of this coupling but I cannot think of a better one after basking
in the glories of Archiv's splendid mono sound and the inimitable charm of
Lehmann and his team of BPO virtuosi.
It is indeed shameful that the over-exposed period instrument movement and
glut of mediocre recordings relegated such magnificent music making to the
attic, for this reissue preserves an important, indeed authoritative addition
to the Handelian discography. However I detect that the practices of the
past are slowly finding favor and this disc should be an example that big
can be beautiful too!