Brimming with exhilarating dance tunes and colourful sonorities, Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks are his two most popular orchestral works. They were composed, respectively, for royal water parties on the River Thames in August 1715 and July 1717, and to celebrate the Peace of Aix-la Chapelle in 1749, with a firwork display in Green Park, London.
While the July 1717 entertainment was an unqualified success - the king "caused it to be plaid three times in going and returning" - the "Royal Fireworks" of 1749 was "ill-conducted" and a pyrotechnic disaster, with one of the pavillions catching fire! This is the first recording of Music for the Royal Fireworks to include a transverse flute, as indicated in the original manuscript. It is used to beautiful effect in La Paix (20).
Handel is a real musical treat. The richness of his composition and the able musicianship creates a musical explosion with such depth, richness and intensity that can only be Handel. That teutonic "Englishman" has created music that is inextricably linked to the fabric of England that he deserves the Englishman title he finally obtained.
The recording is exemplary, as is the musicianship under conductorship of of Mallon. The notes accompanying the CD are full of rich detail.
Track 4 (No.6 Air) is played a little faster than I am used to, rather than the slow sonorous manner in which it is usually played.
On referring to the CD notes, the conductor went to the 18th century score and found it was originally marked Presto, and this is the manner in which it is played on this CD.
It will take sometime to remove the slow reditions from my brain, but I can only expect that this is how Handel intended the music to be heard. One can almost hear the great man turning in his grave to crane his neck to hear it played as he intended. May this version ride over all previous recordings.
Naxos have added yet another supurb recording to their massive catalogue of excellent CDs and may this recording reside in your collection. It deserves to be bought and played with regularity. The excellent price should not put anyone off from adding this essential CD to their collection.
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