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CD Review

George Frideric Handel

Music for the Royal Fireworks

  • Royal Fireworks Music (Original version for winds)
  • Minuets I & II (with fireworks and cannon effects)
  • Concerto a due cori in F Major
  • Concerto #1 in F Major
  • Concerto #3 in D Major
  • Water Music Suite
  • Berenice Overture
Wind Ensemble/Charles Mackerras
Pro Arte Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
London Symphony Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
Testament SBT1253 76m ADD
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Sir Charles Mackerras has a reputation for providing exciting and full-blooded interpretations in Janáček and baroque music and this thrilling collection of Handel recordings dating from almost 50 years ago is a case in point.

The 'Music for the Royal Fireworks' in its original version for wind instruments is utterly compelling. The sound is excellent for its age and the particular timbre of oboes, clarinets and bassoons accompanied by the battery of kettledrums has to be heard to be believed! Although the tempi are sometimes ponderously slow, the effect is extremely exciting, rather similar to Lehmann's pioneering recordings of a couple of years earlier (Archiv).

I would dismiss the Minuets recorded with fireworks and cannon as a mere exhibition but the Concerto a due cori is a different matter. Mackerras conducts with vigour and the subtle, dulcet tones of the Pro Arte Orchestra add to the beauty of this multi-melody work. The short Concertos are also very well played whilst the old-fashioned Water Music suite and Berenice overture betray the slow tempi of the day. A thrilling document for the Fireworks Music then and the rest is also vintage Mackerras.

Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech