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George Frideric Handel
Organ Concertos, Op. 7
Richard Egarr, organist and leading the Academy of Ancient Music
Review by Wayne Donnelly

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  Egarr and the AAM continue their march through Handel's early opus numbers with this charming collection. Actually, as Richard Egarr's excellent notes explain, these concertos were collected and published posthumously in 1761, though they were written over a period of many years. Egarr also discusses lucidly the issues involved in creating the performing edition, understanding the improvisational requirements, and locating the proper chamber organ used here.

That information will no doubt be very useful to scholars of Handel and of 18th Century performance practice. But one need not be a scholar in order to relish the energy and delightful organ and ensemble sororities of this set. Egarr's imaginative solos, the spirited playing of the AAM, and the marvelous, crystal-clear sonics make this an appetizing dish for any listener.

In addition to the Opus 7, this release offers the most familiar of the composer's organ concertos, "The Cuckoo And the Nightingale," as well as a fugue and two chaconnes. Those threee solo works are new to me, but I am very happy to make their acquaintance. Interestingly, Egarr suggests that one of these was perhaps an inspiration for Bach's Goldberg Variations.

And let me mention again how pleased I am that Harmonia Mundi has pretty much abandoned the accursed CD jewel box in favor of sturdier and easier-access packaging. Great music, great sound, great presentation -- recommendations don't get much easier than this.





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