Mr Handel’s Musicians

Floral design

Benoît Laurent, Teatro del Mondo
Perfect Noise PN 1703

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his imaginative CD brings together music from the many musicians who worked with Handel in his long career in London. In the first half of the 18th century, London with its regular opportunities for public concert performances and lively operatic scene was a magnet for musicians from all over Europe, indeed it was this aspect of the metropolis which drew Handel in to begin with. We have music by Giuseppe St Martini (Sammartini), Gastrucci, Galliard and Loeillet, all of whom played under Handel’s direction in the opera orchestra at the King’s Theatre and by de Fesch, Babell, Caporale, Vincent, Cervetto and Bononcini, all of whom moved in Handelian circles in London. Benoît Laurent’s Baroque oboe tone is full and expressive, and he is ably supported by the Teatro del Mondo, members of whom take solo parts in some of the sonatas. Particularly fine is the Baroque cello playing of Marie Deller in sonatas by Bononcini and Galliard. It is not entirely clear from the notes, but she also seems to contribute some lovely recorder playing, particularly in an arrangement by Handel’s publisher Walsh of “Haste, haste” from Solomon and in de Fesch’s song, Polly, both for oboe, recorder and continuo. It is fascinating to hear the music which surrounded Handel and to note the amount of sheer talent which he could draw upon for performances of his own music. Much is made of the many vocal virtuosi he worked with, but we tend to overlook the fact that the instrumentalists must have been quite something too!

D. James Ross

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