Sunday, December 16, 2012

Handel's Organ concertos

Between 1986 and 1999 I built up a considerable collection of classical music CD's (exceeding 2000 CD's in total). For various reasons I have played them a lot less in the past decade, but I am embarking on a rediscovery tour that I intend to share in this blog. In the seventeenth installment, I re-examine the organ concertos by German/English composer, Georg Friedrich Handel (1658 - 1759). Invariably, this composer scores high in all-time favourite lists, usually making the top 10, whereas my recollection of his works was far less positive. To give him the best chance, I chose the organ concertos (my favourite instrument in my favourite type of orchestral music), in excellent versions.

Organ concertos op.4 (1735-1736)
My version: Concertgebouw Orchestra/Rifkin with Peter Hurford (Decca, 1986, 72 min)
Organ concertos op.7 (1740-1751)
My version: Concertgebouw Orchestra/Rifkin with Peter Hurford (Decca, 1987, 89 min)
Organ concertos 13-16 (1739-1747)
My version: Concertgebouw Orchestra/Rifkin with Peter Hurford (Decca, 1986-1987, 70 min)

Well, I tried. I listened twice to all four CD's. And after that I listened to five other Handel CD's from my collection, including the later concerti grossi, water music and royal fireworks music. I don't get it. It's all musical wall paper to me, pleasant background music, but it does not engage me at all. From the baroque period, I'd prefer Vivaldi and Telemann over Handel any day, let alone JS Bach, who I rank as my all-time favourite composer. Oh well. If I ever have to start collecting again, Handel will not make the cut.

Summarizing recommendation, based on my own taste:
Hors concours: None.
Essential: None.
Important: None.
Good to have: None.
Not required: All organ concertos.
Avoid: None.