I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Water Music

#alttext# Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert led by Simon Standage recorded Handel's suites known as the Water Music in 1983, with David Reichenberg on oboe. I remember when acquiring this in the early 1990s, my thinking how raw and good it sounded versus other recordings of the time, such as the one by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Loud, noisy horns. A tuning system that wasn't quite somehow modern. But compared to what might come later in the history of historical performance practice, some of the movements now might pulse a little too regularly. The sound might be a little over-engineered. Tempi in some cases might seem spot-on, or maybe even just a tad slow in some instances. For the most part, however, the recording comes across very well for its age, despite some clues that gives it away as a classic recording. What we have to consider when looking at the Water Music in terms of historical authenticity is the original performance (with a lot of winds, likely no upper strings, performed on the river on barges). Is that the model? Does it dictate tempi? Or should we play it as Handel might have in an indoor acoustic, as written for "export" with strings, as what we might call a chamber orchestra with brass and winds? And should we perform the suites HWV 349/350 as a set, or separately? It's hard for me to listen to this recording today, in 2011, and not hear the age in the recording. The EC play with such regular precision, it's what we might call notably British. But beyond the style they bring to the recording, it's the sound, too. We have a lot of comparisons to make, if we wanted to... for instance, hearing the AAM perform it live just a few years ago, or in my own collection, I also have versions of the Water Music by: * The Jacques Loussier Trio * London Classical Players * Concerto Köln * Ensemble Zefiro As time went on, it seemed each version got better. The London Classical Players, under Roger Norrington, I believed, is a stronger version on Virgin Classics than the Pinnock when it came out, for good reason the improved clarity in the recording. Concerto Köln's reading was technically superior, with a little more style towards the playing. Shortly outdone by Zefiro for sheer excitement. If I were writing a review in 1985, I'd have nothing but praise for this now classic recording. The recording by Robert King of the Royal Fireworks Music features all the woodwinds for a more authentic take on the "outdoor" sound. Today, however, this popular set of suites by Handel has been out-done. Yet, there's one nugget of purity and heaven in the Pinnock that deserves mention. Track 3, the "Andante" wedged between two "Allegros." No doubt credit goes to Handel's scoring, but the sound raises the hair on your neck, and it's a pleasing one. No one's been able to out do that, since this recording was made.

Monteverdi Vespers

Power and Energy: La Stravaganza edition Walsh