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Jonathan Woolf
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Easy to Händel
Partita Latina (Parttita No.17; Praeludium in C minor; El Cumbanchero) [5:20]
Frederic’s Foggy Day (Water Music Suite No.2 Alla Hornpipe) and Gershwin’s Foggy Day in London Town [6:03]
Bossa alla Hornpipe (Water Music Suite No,2 Alla Hornpipe) [4:28]
The Double George (rhapsody on GE”D F’ED”CH HA’DE’ and Gershwin’s I Got rhythm) [5:03]
From the Beggar’s Opera (aria) [6:16]
OS4 Watergames; Watergame I (‘River Dance’; Water Music Suite No.1 Bouree - and How High The Moon) [3:36]; Watergame II (‘Sea Song’; Water Music Suite No.1 Air) [3:05]; Watergame III (‘Stormy Eire’; Water Music Suite No.3 Bouree) [5:15]
The Messiah Goes Marching On (Messiah; Halleluiah Chorus and Oh When The Saints Go Marching In) [7:13]
Choir of Youths (Joshua Act III; See The Conquering Hero) [6:35]
La Paix 2009 (Fireworks Music ‘La Paix’; Largo alla Siciliana) [2:40]
Opera String Quartet - Wolfgang Heinzel (piano and arrangements): Wolfgang Weth (clarinet and bass clarinet); Peter Cerny (bass); Rainer Engelhardt (drums, banjo, bodhran) with Kathrin Adelmann (violin); Birgit Engelhardt (piccolo) and Claudia Karsch (harp)
rec. 2008
BELLA MUSICA BM31.6531 [55:50]
Experience Classicsonline

The Opera String Quartet - or OS4 - has a track record in pun-curdling album titles but what a quartet can do, so can a critic. Their Handel tribute comes umlauted, of course, given that we have tectonic Teutons on board and wielding salon implements to while away a pleasing hour or so. A name of the musical game is to force-feed Handel licks something from, say, Gershwin and see what happens. The results are the light-hearted handiwork of clavier tiger Wolfgang Heinzel, the arrangement guru of the foursome.

Partita Latina gets the disc underway with a food fusion of Fugato and Latino hues, courtesy of the hip-swivelling El Cumbanchero; there’s an engagingly jazzy ride out chorus from clarinettist Wolfgang Weth. Next up is Frederic’s Foggy Day in which - wouldn’t you know it - the Water Music is genetically transformed into the Gershwin masterpiece and along the way the shade of Alec Templeton peers down, benevolently one hopes. It’s certainly a very busy arrangement. There’s a laid back Bossa beat with sepulchral bass clarinet in the next track and some Satie stews in The Double George. The aria culled from the finale of The Beggar’s Opera is a jazz waltz, though not in the way that Art Blakey would have recognised.

There’s a section devoted to OS4 Watergames, so called. The First is a peppy salon charmer that infiltrates How High The Moon but the second is altogether more wistful and a little oasis of calm. The Third is augmented by harp, violin and piccolo and a touch of the old bodhran. The Messiah Goes Marching On sees some New Orleans lite marching from this four piece as well as some funky bass clarinet licks. OS4 go to town their arrangement of the Choir of Youths from Joshua and add a full fusion spicy concoction to the mix, whilst La Paix 2009 ends things in deceptive calm. This is derived from the Fireworks Music - it’s actually the Largo alla Siciliana - and leaves us sated.

This is borderline listening - best heard al fresco with a chilled wheat beer in one hand and an open guidebook in the other.

Jonathan Woolf


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