Haendel: Water Music; Music for The Royal Fireworks

Their popularity and frequent arrangement have given them,
I suspect, an awkward familiarity, the kind of familiarity that keeps us from
attending to them with attentive and respectful ear. Yet, their familiar
ubiquity should not blind us to the fact that they are popular, in part,
because they are very good pieces. Jordi Savall’s remastered 1993
recording of the Water Music and Music for the Royal
is precisely the sort of recording that breaks through the fog
of familiarity and reanimates the hearing.

The pedigree of the suites, of course, needs no special pleading. The
Water Music’s association with royal entertainment on the Thames
is well known through the early Handel biographer, John Mainwaring, who gives
us the unsubstantiated and unlikely notion of a reconciliation between Handel
and George I via the beauty of the works at hand. The story is a false start,
but the royal esteem for the works survives intact. And with thousands of
people creating an eighteenth-century traffic jam on London Bridge en
to hear a public rehearsal of the Music for the Royal
in Vauxhall Gardens in 1749, we can have but little doubt of the
public interest in Handel and his celebrative music for the Treaty of

Savall’s splendid period performance offers the opportunity to relish
anew the amazing range of pieces in these collections: elegance, exuberance,
energy, and regality, all in a captivating procession of musical style. At each
turn, the musicians of Le Concert des Nations command such stylistic fluency
that, whether a wafting Lentement, a rhapsodic oboe Adagio,
or a spirited bassoon gigue, the familiar pieces emerge with a new and very
gratifying polish, and our newly awakened ear finds much to respect and enjoy,
indeed. To that, as Handel famously and familiarly put it elsewhere, we might
say “Hallelujah!”

Steven Plank

image_description=Haendel. Water Music; Music for The Royal Fireworks
product_title=Haendel. Water Music; Music for The Royal Fireworks
product_by=Le Concert des Nations. Jordi Savall, Director
product_id=Alia Vox Heritage AVSA 9860 [SACD]