Handel: Concerti Grossi

Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Michael Hofstetter
Orfeo C 831 151 A
op. 6/1, 6, 10, 12; Concerto Grosso in C (from Alexander’s Feast)

A quirky recording. The Stuttgart Kammerorchester are a fine ensemble, and this disc contains some extremely lively, alert and incisive playing. Unfortunately it also contains an almost embarrassing excess of ornamentation, with nearly every note of some movements embellished in some way. Try the magnificent Op. 6 No. 1, for example, which opens the disc. The tempi are exciting, the band is large enough for the solo/tutti contrasts to be well-pointed, and the actual playing is superb. Yet it almost seems as though Cuzzoni’s ‘nest of nightingales’ has been released, so insistent is the chirruping. When the music is left alone, it comes across with full intensity; the peerless musette of Op. 6 No. 6 is absolutely magical, as it should be, as is the beautifully-poised final gavotte-with-variations of the closing Alexander’s Feast concerto.

Alastair Harper