What do you get when
two 'big' names join forces to record
'little' music such as these sonatas?
This disc gives you your answer: it's
a rare treat!
I say 'little' only
because this music is emotionally lightweight.
But it really is first rate stuff. Mostly
bright and melodic, as befits the solo
instrument's playful nature, and not
without contrapuntal interest or, as
ever with Handel, supremely clever workmanship.
Sprightly dance numbers abound. You'll
probably recognise half-familiar tunes
which you've encountered - or think
you've encountered - elsewhere in Handel's
instrumental music. As so often with
baroque composers, in an age before
recorded music, Handel wasn't averse
to recycling his music for further use,
if only for an easy life, or for a quick
adjustment to his bank balance.
After years of examining
student performers grappling with impossible
technical limitations, I have to say
this disc destroys my many preconceived
notions - 'pet hates', I was going to
say - about recorder players - flat
ends of phrases, wavering long notes,
and limited musical interest to match
the negligible dynamic range. Or about
jazz players 'going classical' - insensitivity
to style and tone, and over-intrusive
personalities. In fact this is top-drawer
playing from Petri and Jarrett: beautifully
polished, rhythmically alive and delicately
Of course baroque specialists
and jazz musicians share one thing in
this kind of repertory in their need
to improvise - in this case, the recorder
to ornament Handel's simple lines, and
the harpsichordist to fill out Handel's
figured bass. Petri and Jarrett acquit
themselves admirably, as if to the manner
born, striking that elusive golden mean
between indulgence and negligence.
This disc offers spirited
and committed performances of some of
the composer's most diverting music.
The recording's exemplary, and the price
tempting - sufficient to demolish your
last excuse not to buy.
Peter J Lawson