Handel: Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks HWV 348-351

Floral design

set for the Harpsichord or Organ by Francesco Geminiani (1743) & Anonymous (ca. 1749)…”
Arranged and edited by Siegbert Rampe.
Bärenreiter (BA 9254), 2015, £29.00.
xiv + 50pp + 3 parts.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]was puzzled when I saw adverts of this, but it turns out to be interesting. For a start, there is considerable information on the two works in the introduction. The Water Music for keyboard was issued in 1725, 1733/34 and 1743, the last version being arranged by Geminiani. (The comment in the introduction in the second column of the second paragraph of page x is confusing, since three dates are described as “the latter”! The German text is correct.) As the introduction says, Geminiani was not primarily a keyboard composer, but it works quite well. Some cadences look bare, but perhaps that is left to the player to fill in. The Fireworks keyboard version is not very sophisticated, so the editor has produced a solo keyboard version as well as another for treble and continuo; three parts are provided – flute/violin/oboe & Bc, and realised continuo with right-hand fill-in in the middle stave. Odd bits of facsimile fill in gaps, but could be more precisely related to the main score. Fun to play, but with so many CDs, playing on keyboard is rather old fashioned – but perhaps the custom will change.

Clifford Bartlett

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