BMC 5
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759)
ORGAN CONCERTOS Opus 4 numbers 1,2, 4,5 & 6
plus No.13 "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale"

THE THURINGIAN BAROQUE ENSEMBLE
Heinrich KLEMM, Sauer Organ,
Konzerthalle Ulrichskirche, Halle (Germany)

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1. Concerto Op. 4 No. 1 in g minor
    Larghetto e staccato – Allegro – Adagio – Andante
2. Concerto Op. 4 No. 2 in B flat Major
    Tempo ordinario – Allegro – Adagio – Allegro
3. Concerto Op. 4 No. 4 in F Major
    Allegro – Andante – Adagio – Allegro
4. Concerto Op. 4 No. 5 in F Major
    Larghetto – Allegro – Alla Siciliana – Presto
5. Concerto Op. 4 No. 6 in B flat Major
     Andante allegro – Larghetto – Allegro moderato
6. Concerto No. 13 in F Major
    Larghetto – Allegro – Larghetto – Allegro
    'The Cuckoo and the Nightingale'

Total time 76:54

A great composer… and also a great showman! Handel must have felt in an improvisatory mood either before, or during an interval in one of his oratorios, and being thus inspired, he produced an instant organ concerto. Clearly this was a huge success, for it would seem that Handel's organ concertos were all written primarily as interludes in his oratorios, the first two, according to Dr. Charles Burney, appearing with Deborah on March 17th and Esther on April 14th, 1733, both at the King's Theatre, Haymarket. Two new organ concertos were advertised for the Covent Garden performance of Esther on March 5th, 1735, of which London socialite Mrs. Pendarves wrote to her mother ten days later, describing them as 'the finest things I ever heard in my life'.

Sir John Hawkins ('A General History of the Science and Practice of Music' 1776) wrote of Handel: "When he gave a concerto, his method in general was to introduce it with a voluntary movement on the diapasons, which stole on the ear in a slow and solemn progression; the harmony close wrought, and as full as could possibly be expressed; the passages concatenated with stupendous art, the whole at the same time being perfectly intelligible, and carrying the appearance of great simplicity. This kind of prelude was succeeded by the concerto itself which he executed with a degree of spirit and firmness that no one has ever pretended to equal."

With comments such as these to recommend Mr. Handel's organ concertos, what more could we add - except to say that these concertos are here played in grand Handelian style, on a large organ recorded well in the forefront. Tempi are measured to preserve the stately nobility which is the hallmark of Handel.

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