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CD Review

George Frideric Handel

  • Water Music
  • Royal Fireworks Music
Paillard Chamber Orchestra/Jean-François Paillard
Erato 45931 - 71min

Paillard plows relentlessly through the Water Music, completely missing the score's charm, wit, and grace. Erato's recording (in the F and D Major Suites at least) is close-in, harsh, and unnatural. The G Major Suite is both more relaxed and better recorded, though Paillard turns the typically light-footed finale into a mock funeral procession.

In contrast, the Royal Fireworks Music is fresh, lively, and alert. Paillard chooses the wind instrument version, and his chamber ensemble plays it brilliantly. Sonics are vivid and detailed, though the closely-miked drums soon wear out their welcome. As with other Bonsai Collection discs, no notes are supplied.

The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's Water Music (on DG) has all the playfulness and spirit that's missing from the Paillard, and their Fireworks Suite (in the more familiar version with winds and strings) is every bit as exciting and colorful. However, the most satisfying of all versions of the Water Music is still the Delos recording by Gerard Schwarz and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, with its wild, yet always tasteful, ornamentation and Schwarz's unrivalled sensitivity to the moods and colors of Handel's kaleidoscopic score.

Copyright © 1996, Tom Godell