MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
CD 1
Oboe Concerto No. 1 in B flat major, HWV 301 [8:13]
Oboe Concerto No. 2a in B flat major, HWV 302a [8:35]
Oboe Concerto No. 3 in G minor, HWV 387 [10:12]
Largo in F major (Fragment from Op. 3 No. 2b) [2:25]
Alcina: Overture; Il Ballo; Act III Music; Dream Music [23:58]
Ariodante : Overture; Sinfonia pastorale; Rondeau I, Rondeau II, Finale [17:33]
Il pastor fido : Pour les Chasseurs I & II [5 :47]
CD 2
Berenice: Overture, Menuet, Gigue [9:36]
Solomon: Sinfonia - Arrival of the Queen of Sheba [3:08]
Concerto a due cori No. 1, HWV 332 [15:27]
Concerto a due cori No. 2, HWV 333 [15:31]
Concerto a due cori No. 3, HWV 334 [16;12]
Overture in D, HWV 337/339 [5:38]
Concerto grosso in C, HWV 318 'Alexander's Feast' [12:59]
Roger Lord (oboe); Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields/Sir Neville Marriner.
rec. March 1964 (Berenice), April 1965 (Oboe concertos, Largo), August 1971 (Solomon), December 1979 (Ariodante, Il pastor fido), December 1971 (Alcina), January 1979 (remainder). ADD.
DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 1388 [74:54+79:10]


Experience Classicsonline

According to the publicity material, “of immense interest to the collector will be Marriner's Argo disc of 'ballet music' - overtures and orchestral interludes from Alcina, Ariodante and Il pastor fido, appearing complete for the first time on CD.” Well, yes, up to a point, though the operative word is 'complete': some of these items have already appeared on an earlier Australian Eloquence CD in company with Gluck's Don Juan ballet music (476 244-0). My colleague Stephen Vasta didn't like either the performance or the recording of the Gluck but was more impressed with the Handel: in fact, he thought “it might be worth waiting for Decca to reissue ZRG 686, which also included the overture and ballet music from Alcina, in its entirety. It'd be worth the wait, especially if filled out with, say, Marriner's Royal Fireworks Music.” (See review). Well, he hasn't got all of that wish, but a substantial part of it has been fulfilled.

Paul Shoemaker was also impressed with the performances and recording of the Handel items on that earlier Eloquence CD - see review - as also was Göran Forsling - see review.

GF's one reservation was that “Period instruments might have given some added edge to the performances but for fine middle of the road performances on modern instruments this is hard to beat.” Right on both counts; I'll return to this point in considering the performances of the Concerti a due cori on this new 2-disc reissue.

The ballet music from ZRG686 concludes CD1 (tracks 14-21). When that Argo LP first appeared in 1972, and again when it was reissued in 1980, it received almost universal praise, which it still deserves. I wasn't at all troubled by the ornamentation and double-dotting which received some criticisms then - they really aren't obtrusive and, in any case, the style of Handel's ballet music ultimately stems from that of the French composers of the previous century. The lightness of touch which was praised then is something we have come to take for granted even more in later versions, as on a mid-price Warner CD of much the same repertoire (Alcina, Terpsichore and Il pastor fido) with The English Baroque Soloists and John Eliot Gardiner. Some dealers still have those versions of the ballet music on a single mid-price CD (2564 603352); otherwise it comes as part of two apparently identical but differently numbered super-bargain 6-CD packages (2564 696208 and 2564 698383, both with L'Allegro, etc.) If I express a slight preference for those EBS recordings, it's because the original instruments just tilt the balance. I have fewer reservations than Johan van Veen expressed in his review of this Gardiner CD, except to point out that a playing time of 47 minutes is rather mean. If you can't find the single disc, it can be downloaded for £3 from

The earliest items on the Eloquence reissue, the Oboe concertos and the Berenice and Solomon items, appeared in 1965 on ZRG5442 to well-nigh rapturous welcome. The ASMF was then at the cutting edge of presenting baroque music, Handel in particular, without the ultra-seriousness which characterised earlier performances. This stylish version of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba still holds its own and even now there isn't a great deal of competition for the Oboe concertos - the versions on Naxos 8.553430 from Anthony Camden/Northern Sinfonia/Nicholas Ward and Regis RRC1106, from Sarah Francis/London Harpsichord Ensemble, are the most easily accessible and inexpensive.

These early ASMF performances seem a little less special now - even just a little square, especially by comparison with some recent accounts by Italian ensembles which have rather divided critical opinion - but they are still very well worth hearing. When, in 1988, Decca assembled a programme entitled A Baroque Weekend, they turned to the ASMF performances of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and Oboe Concerto No.3 for the central portion of that CD (417 688-2, reissued as The Best of Baroque, Eloquence 461 139-2). Having said that the ASMF sound less enthralling now, I must admit that, after trying out their Handel on that earlier disc, I played it through to the end to hear the two Vivaldi performances which conclude it. How about an ASMF Vivaldi set now, Eloquence, to satisfy those who have enjoyed your Best of Baroque and the selection from the ASMF's Op.3, L'estro armonico (467 432-2, Nos. 1-3,6, 8, 10-12) and wish to explore Vivaldi further?

There is a recommendable period-performance recording of two of the Concerti a due cori, nos. 2 and 3, from the English Concert/Trevor Pinnock on mid-price Archiv Masters 447 2802, available for around £8 and also from as a good-quality 320k mp3 download. Those Pinnock performances are coupled with Simon Preston's versions of the Coronation Anthems, which, highly recommendable as they are, may involve duplication with, for example, the splendid recent version by The Sixteen on Coro (COR16066), my Download of the Month in my April, 2009 Roundup.

These Concerti a due cori are highly enjoyable, even if they do involve the recycling of a good deal of familiar material, such as Lift up your heads, O ye gates, from Messiah - but what superb recycling it is. If you don't know them, you ought to repair the omission. The Marriner reissue will give you a very good idea of their quality, but I think the Pinnock versions make them sparkle just that little more. Then there's the excitement of the English Concert's natural horns, like cornering just slightly too fast - will they make it? (They do.) I don't want to make Marriner sound four-square - his tempi are very similar to Pinnock's - but it's worth the duplication for the little extra that the Archiv CD or download brings.

After all, you can have the 2-CD Eloquence set and the Archiv together for less than £14. All three discs are well filled, with over 72 minutes on the Archiv reissue and even more on each of the Eloquence CDs. In fact, you'll need both: only the Eloquence set includes the first Concerto a due cori, with its bouncy version of And the glory of the Lord from Messiah (tr.4) I can't imagine even Pinnock doing this better than Marriner and the ASMF do here.

The second CD is rounded off with very good performances of the Overture in D and the Concerto Grosso in C, HWV318, known as Alexander's Feast because of its employment as interval music for that oratorio. The original-instrument version of this concerto by Simon Standage and Collegium Musicum 90 on Chandos CHAN0622, coupled with excellent versions of the Concerti Grossi, Op.6/10-12, is a little more sprightly, though there isn't much in it. I hope to look at the Standage Op.6 set in a forthcoming Download Roundup; he shaves 9 seconds off Marriner's time for the opening Allegro, but I defy anyone to find the latter sluggish or unstylish.

As my colleagues have indicated in the case of those items which appeared in tandem with Gluck, the Argo/Decca recordings throughout belie their age apart from a little tubbiness in the bass - the more sensitive of my systems emphasises this more than the other. Raymond Tuttle's notes are brief but informative, though they are silent about the two works which conclude CD2, and the whole set is presented as attractively as is usual with Eloquence. I can't imagine anyone being seriously disappointed with this reissue.

Brian Wilson 


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.