I just picked up Concerto Köln's new album of Handel's Water Music Suites. Wow. This isn't your "grandmother's water music," for sure. I've always thought some of my best recordings came from Köln, but this one is quite interesting. I had heard them perform from a live concert on NPR, and when I saw this for sale through iTunes, I couldn't resist. It's "turned up a notch." For one, some of the tempi are unusual, many, in the fast direction. Second, there's a ton of ornamentation from individual players. It is very baroque, then, isn't it? So refreshing. In total, I think, there might be some question about whether this is a definitive reading. The technical part of the playing is outstanding; an excellent recording, and crystal clear. But in terms of orchestration, some of the combinations were surprising (one movement played alone on the harpsichord, transverse flute for one of the movements from the G-major suite, etc. But I keep returning to that word: refreshing. This is a new look, for sure, of Handel's orchestral works. As a bonus, they include a string suite as well, which again, is played like the others: with energy and flair. What's remarkable is the transparency of sound (each group, from strings, to continuo, brass, and woodwinds, is so perfectly audible separate from one another. Yet, together, the ensemble sounds well-combined. At times, perhaps, the laid-backness of the strings might surprise you, then again, if you listen, there they are, pushing things along. I don't think I'd like to give up my former favorites, Pinnock's original with the English Concert, or the more rollicking version from the London Classical Players under Norrington. But this version is akin to blowing away every last cobweb on Handel's masterpieces. The accents, the tempi, and the bravura displayed through the affective ornamentation will wake you up from what you "thought" you knew of Handel's water music. Highly recommended, without reservation.