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George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Concerti Grossi, Op.3 (HWV312-317) [54:11]
Concerti Grossi, Op.6 (HWV319-330) [153:24]
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Georg Kallweit (Op.3), Bernhard Forck (Op.6)
rec. Nikodemuskirche, Berlin, September 2018 and February 2019 (Op.6), and
May 2019 (Op.3). DDD.
Reviewed as downloaded from lossless (wav) press preview
[54:11 + 72:55 + 80:29]
It seems no time at all since I reviewed the Op.3 concertos from this set
Late 2020 Retrospective. My only reservation was that the Hyperion Helios recording with the
Brandenburg Consort comes at a lower price and includes both versions of
No.4, the spurious one which Walsh first published, and the genuine article
which Handel insisted should be substituted. The advantage of including
No.4 and No.4a remains – the Walsh pastiche is worth having – but the price
difference is slightly narrowed by the reissue of these three recordings as
a set for around £33.
That’s not a massive saving, but it is a boon for those who didn’t snap up these recordings when they first
appeared; it's much less of a bargain for anyone who bought the Op.3 or one
of the Op.6 releases. For them, if they wish to complete the set, the
original releases remain available, on hybrid SACD and as downloads up to
24-bit. It looks as if fans of SACD are going to be disappointed by the
bundle; whereas the original releases came in that form, the set appears to
be available on CD only. That’s not necessarily a problem: my review copy
came in lossless (wav) format, equivalent to CD sound, and there’s little
diminution in recording quality over the Op.6/7-12 disc, which I reviewed
from the hi-res stereo layer of the SACD.
of the two Op.6 releases was partly from streaming in mp3 from Naxos Music
Library and partly from SACD, and I commented that while the mp3 was good,
the hi-res SACD sounded noticeably better. Comparing the new set in CD
quality with the SACD, the difference is far less noticeable. And there’s
always the option of 24-bit downloads, though that tends to be more
expensive than the CD or SACD. If you really must have the highest-res, the
offers 24-bit, PCM stereo or surround, or, for the really clued-up, DSD
stereo or surround.
In my original review, I compared the Op.6 SACDs with some of the best
of the earlier recordings, notably the Academy of St Martin with Neville
Marriner on modern instruments but with a sense of period style, a
Presto special CD
set well worth considering, and, on period instruments, Trevor Pinnock with
the English Consort (DG Archiv 4791932, 11-CD set, around £47, including
Op.3 and Op.6), Andrew Manze with the Academy of Ancient Music (Harmonia
Mundi HMU907228/29, download) and, a particular favourite, Christopher
Hogwood with the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra (Double Decca 4588172 -
review of Avie reissue, no longer available).
This time I sat through the whole set, occasionally dipping into the
Hogwood recordings for comparison, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
If anything, I appreciated the performances even more than first time around.
My appreciation has also been shared by Curtis Rogers (Op.6/1-6 –
review) and Michael Greenhalgh (Op.3 –
review). I usually advise against playing such large sets in one go, but with the
download tracks numbered from 01_01 to 03_32, not separated into the
individual CDs, I broke my own rule, got carried away, and listened straight through, for over
If you want to grab the Op.3 and Op.6 concerti grossi in one go, I can
think of no better way to do so.