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Water Music (Suite in F HWV 348 and Suite in D and G major) HWV 349/350 ; Music for the Royal Fireworks HWV 351 ;
Concerto for two horns in F HWV 334 ;
Harp Concerto in B flat Op 4 no6 ;
Concerti grossi Op. 6 nos. 5 in D, 6 in G minor and 12 in B minor.
The English Consort, Trevor Pinnock.
DG Panorama 469 145 - 2. 2CD set . Approx price £8.50. Recordings made between 1982 and 1986.
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Another great bargain and from one of the finest exponents of baroque - music. To have all 19 movements of the Water Music in one collection is very welcome, although it has been done many times before, but few of us may have the stamina to enjoy it all at one hearing. If you will forgive a pun this is a rather reflective performance whereas the more popular Fireworks Music is quite exhilarating. It is, perhaps, slightly too refined. I would have preferred a greater attack and higher drama but the music is very well performed that I would be being over fussy to criticise it on this one small point alone. Munchinger and the Stuggart Players (London 417743 -2) has more body in their performances. Sir Alexander Gibson is very good on Chandos and, it may surprise some to know that Pierre Boulez had a fine recording with the New York Philharmonic. Hogwood is very mannered as usual and has all the ghastly traits of alleged correctness.

Pinnock is sometimes slightly too polished, too shiny but has all the grace and elegance even when he has to contend with the 'unsmoothness' of Handel's dotted rhythms.

The unnamed horn soloists in the Double Horn Concerto are very good but why treat them anonymously. That is not done with the solo harpist Ursula Hollinger.There is something very regal about this Double Horn Concerto. I prefer Marisa Robles account of the Harp Concerto with ASMF with Iona Brown directing, particularly as it includes concertos by Boieldieu and Dittersdorf. Hollinger does not have the same infectious life and energy as Robles.

The Concerti grossi are very well played and with variety of tone. Consider the presto of Op. 6 no. 5 for example. The clarity of the string playing is first class. But as with Bach's first Brandenburg why conclude a concerto with a minuet? I love the broadness of Pinnock's Largo in this concerto. It is sublime and the sheer joy of the subsequent allegro is noteworthy.

The Largo of the G minor is very impressive without being extreme as some baroque conductors make it. It has space and dignity without succumbing to any form of stylistic degeneration. It is rich and velvety and very intimate in its sound. It has moments of almost tragic proportions and I have not heard it played as well as this ever before.The a tempo giusto movement brings out the inner voices and this is followed by a long musette marked larghetto rich in dark colours and very effective in this rather special performance. I do so admire the intimacy of Pinnock's performances. They are almost human and, after all, that is what music-making is all about..... communication. It may not be appreciated by everyone but taking part in a performance can be a very treasured and intimate experience. When I was the pianist for a magnificent cellist the intimacy in the music that we performed and our need to be together and at one is an experience that transcends all others. The allegros that conclude this Handel concerto are not outstanding.

But I wonder what Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua of Koln would have made of them bearing in mind their predilection for very fast allegros.

The B minor concerto has always been my favourite since I was a boy . The third

movement, aria, larghetto e piano was the signature tune of a daily programme on the BBC Home Service in the 1950s called Five to Ten, for obvious reasons. It was a brief daily worship programme and this music was very apt. This is baroque music at it very best simple, direct, unfussy , melodic and very evocative and that it is preceded by a splendid allegro makes it a fine contrast. Pinnock's performance straight forward and all the better for that. I do admire his lack of self-indulgence. A fine musician. After this sublime aria we have another slow movement which is a brief introduction to an allegro finale which has a controlled rustic bustle.

Worth having for the Concerti Grossi alone.


David Wright



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