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CD Feature/ "Handel's Water Garden"

img  Tobias

It has happened to the greatest of composers: Being sized down to a single piece of music. In this respect, Händel could count himself lucky – after all, he is generally known for a total of three moments of genius: His “Royal Fireworks”, the “Messiah” and “Water Music”. Judging from the title of this CD, one might well suspect it to be another recording of the latter, but – surprise, surprise – it turns out to be a well-deserved overview of the man’s sizeable catalogue.

Of course, the famous “Alla Hornpipe” from “Water Music” does turn up eventually, but until then, Don Jackson and the London Symphony Orchestra have already delivered on the promise of a diverse and colourful program. And on a whirlwind of melodies. It will remain a mystery, why Händel has for some time been confined to stand in the shadows of Mozart, while his compositions offer the same combination of magical deepness and direct accesibility. If you like, compare him to Hitchock – both were highly commercial artists at their time and thank their status as Classics to the deliberate catchyness and whistle-along mentality of their work. Just like the “master of suspense”, Händel catered to the needs and interests of a crowd and it is only fitting that a respectable portion of this album is dedicated to his opera overtures. After all, that is, for a significant part, where his fame came from. The Largo from “Xerxes” is of equal grace and regality as Bach’s “Air”, the upwardly cascading strings of “Alcina”, which lead leading into a energetic canon, are of a cinematic quality. Of course, that is where the comparison with the movies ends. For a Baroque composer, Händel’s pieces are remarkably bombastic, but in their heart of hearts, they still want to be seen and heard as Chamber Music. There is a certain naivety and innocence, which these recordings bring out perfectly, despite their grand nature and shining surface.

There’s loose ends everywhere, but the point of this compilation is neither completeness nor a closed cosmos. Rather, it gives plenty of reason to see Händel in a new light – the shimmering light of his life-time glory. And it offers listeners the chance to connect those loose ends by checking out more of the respective works. There is no more excuse for sizing Händel down to just three pieces.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: DTS Media

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