1 LP - A 00235 L - (p) 1956
1 CD - fr 802 - (p) 2013


Georg Friedrich HÄNDEL (1685-1759) Concerto Grosso in G major, Op. 6 No. 1
12' 00" A1

- A tempo giusto · Allegro · Adagio · Allegro · Allegro


Concerto Grosso in B-flat major, Op. 6 No. 7
13' 38" A2

- Largo · Allegro · Largo e piano · Andante · Hornpipe

Concerto Grosso in F major, Op. 6 No. 2
11' 54" B1

- Andante Larghetto · Allegro · Largo · Allegro, ma non troppo

Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6 No. 6
15' 50" B2

- Larghetto e affettuoso · Allegro ma non troppo · Musette · Allegro · Allegro

- Walter Puschacher, first violin
- Armin Kaufmann, second violin
- Viktor Görlich, 'cello
- Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichord
The "WIENER SYMPHONIKER" (The Vienna Symphony Orchestra)

, Conductor


Luogo e data di registrazione
(luogo di registrazione non indicato) - 1954

Registrazione: live / studio

Recording Supervision


Prima Edizione LP
Philips Minigrove | A 00235 L | 1 LP - durata 53' 22" | (p) 1956

Edizione CD
Forgotten Records | fr 802 | 1 CD - durata 67' 26" | (p) 2013 | ADD

Cover Art



The concerto grosso, as a specifically Baroque form of orchestral composition, occupies a unique place in the history of the concerto. The first record of this type of work is met with among the music of the oratorio and opera composer Alessandro Stradella around about 1680, who wrote a number of concerti grossi for string orchestra with harpsichord accompaniment. The violinist Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) is reputed to have taken over this form from its originator. It has also been discovered that Corelli, when he was Music Director to Queen Christine of Sweden in Rome, and subsequently in the service of the Duke of Modena, conducted this type of concerto at the head of up to 150 players. It was during this period that he became acquainted with the young Handel. No one less than Georg Muffat (1645-1704) expressed his great admiration for Corelli's orchestral technique, especially for the way in which he divided up the various sound groups; it is assumed that he learnt the principles of this during a personal visit to Lully in Paris in 1672. This then is the history of the formal evolution of the concerto grosso, as Handel first came to know it. And now a few words about the actual characteristics of the form itself.
The concerto grosso is written for two orchestra groups, played on the strings. The multiscored string group of the full orchestra bears the brunt of the Ripieno work and forms the basis, as it were of the composition, which explains why it is referred to as "Concerto grosso". The contrasting element to this full orchestra is a smaller group, also consisting of strings, which being a soloist ensemble is singly scored and is known as the "Concertino". Usually, as is evident from Handel's works, it consists of two solo violins, a solo 'cello and a thorough-bass, played on the harpsichord.
As the well-known musicologist Hans Joachim expressed it so perfectly, the two orchestral groups engage, to a certain extent like a double chorus, in a brilliant dialogue, during which the Concertino, due to its greater flexibility and virtuoso qualities, colourfully enlarges on the main thematic material. The full (Ripieno) orchestra is often completely silent in the central movement, leaving the soloists to continue the tale.
The four concerti grossi recorded here are part of a series of twelve major concertos, which Handel composed in 1739 as Opus 6. They represent a major milestone in the master's instrumental compositions. Influenced by the Italian stylistic ideals of the "Venetian" and "Neapolitan" schools, he also infuses the music with his Germanic natural feelings and the portrayal of human individuals, thereby bringing music to one of the summits of its overall development. As opposed to Bach's gothic approach, the language Handel uses (and this is not only accounted for by his studies in Italy) is transparently clear in the Renaissance sense, forthright and, seen from our point of view, like Baroque. As far as the performance of the Handel works are concerned, the concerti grossi are heard here in their original setting, without any re-arranging or re-orchestration whatsoever. If one had wished to use a large string orchestra for the Ripieno, this would have necessitated including more harpsichords (the modern piano tone was impossible on acount of stylistic considerations). We, therefore, have confined ourselves to one harpsichord and the old, small orchestra. This reflects the sound colour of the Ripieno in all its tonal characteristics so transparently abd airily, just as it must have sounded in Handel's time; as a result, the correct tonal balance between the Ripieno and the Concertino is ensured. The proper execution of a work after all is nothing but an historically true return and re-introduction of the strict Baroque style.
CONCERTO GROSSO No. 1 in G MAJOR, is in five movements. Two themes are ireely contrasted with one another in the introductory Tempo giusto - the rhythmically pointed Ripieno theme accentuates the melodious motif of the Concertino, which is imitated by the solo violins. The solo 'cello and the harpsichord provide the harmonic, chordal foundation. An entirely different composing technique is adopted in the ensuing Allegro. The rondo-like double measure motif is dynamically differentiated in alternate interplay of question and answer between the Ripieno and the Concertino and varied, the whole resting upon a basis of moving quavers in the bass.
In the following lyrical mellifluous scene, the two solo violins embroider upon an E flat major Adagio, against the counterpoint of the solo 'cello. The entrances of the ripieno are to be regarded as interconnecting links between the theme entrances. A four-best Adagio return modulation leads to a freely developed fugue, which, in addition to normal theme entries, also elaborates on motif aspects as in a development. Canonically developed intermediate episodes in the Concertino provide the necessary variety. The work concludes with a figuratively richly fashioned Allegro.
CONCERTO GROSSO No. 7 IN B FLAT MAJOr is formally the most interesting. A short introductory Largo serves as a prelude to the B flat major fugue (Allegro). The form is strongly reminiscent of Bach with three distinct sections and two entractes. The special melodic independence of the central voices is the most striking aspect of the three-part, freely fashioned Largo in G minor. In the following, rhythmically pregnant Andante, the fully composed steps of the key are developed full of rich, harmonic variety. Handel brings this work to a conclusion with a lively hornpipe abounding with the closely tied rhythms, characteristic if this form.
CONCERTO GROSSO No. 2 IN F MAJOR is marked by the rich interplay of keys. Handel opens this work with an interesting amalgamation of polyphonic imitation and "Lied" form (Andante larghetto, F major), in which the Concertino plays a leading role. In the Allegro, D minor, he changes ove to the parallel key and introduces a typical violin theme in which chords play a prominent part, interwoven in the contrasting repartee between the Concertino and the Ripieno. The Largo in B flat major, is also characterized by a similar contrasting interplay between. Tutti and Solo (restricted here to the dynamic aspects). The composer returns to the original key of F major in the final movement, Allegro ma non troppo, and this Concerto grosso finishes impressively in strict fugal form.
In the CONCERTO GROSSO No. 6 IN G MINOR, in which the introductory, freely-developed Larghetto e affettuoso reveals a fascinating interplay of Tutti and Solo, the serious character of the work is clearly stressed. He compresses his thoughts in the succeeding Allegro ma non troppo, a brief, rather chromatic fugue, in which the soloist and Tutti antries alternate with one another. Special attention should be paid to the stylized dance section (Musette - Larghetto - E flat major), which makes full advantage of the colourful possibilities of a full-toned string ensemble, while the soloists of the Concertino perform canonic imitations. Towards the end of the three-sectional movement, the violins switch over from the marked musette rhythm to a running semiquaver movement. In the following Allegro in G minor, the style of the composition already referred to is maintained, in that the movement gains in liveliness as it proceeds. In the final movement (Allegro) this liveliness is reflected in triplets, adding a warm and cheerful note to the serious character of the music.
The orchestral supervision of the recording was entrusted to a prominent Baroque expert, who studied Handel's own particular composing style at the place where the latter created these works, in London: JOHN PRITCHARD, one of the most important contemporary British conductors.
Convincing and flexible in the shaping of the formal structure, Pritchard magically recreates the part-progression wonders of the Baroque period for us, so that, on hearing this record, we find ourselves confronted with new, undiscovered beauties in this work, which the excellence of the recording allows us to enjoy to the full. He is assisted by equally brilliant Concertino and Ripieno musicians of the VIENNA SYMPHONY ORCHEsTRA, whose technical mastery allows them to follow faithfully every nuance of the conductor's wishes in the matter of style, thereby achoeving, with him, a masterpiece of musical reproduction.