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George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759): Organ Concertos Op. 4,1-6. Performed by Bob van Asperen, organ and direction, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (leader: Catherine Mackintosh) on period instruments. Recorded in January 1994 at Lyndhurst Hall, London, England. Published in 1996 by Virgin Classics as 7243 5 45174 2. Total time: 71'15".

It doesn't get much better than this! Handel was, from his youth, an organ virtuoso, and during his stay in Rome at the beginning of the 18th century, he took part in a competition against Domenico Scarlatti, the famous composer of harpsichord sonatas. The result was clear: Handel was declared the winner on the organ, while Scarlatti was considered to have emerged triumphant on the harpsichord. The careers of the two men, both of the same age, were to develop very differently. Whereas Scarlatti went to Spain and wrote over 500 sonatas, Handel became London's leading opera impresario, composing a large number of "opera seria" and, later in life, his famous English oratorios. It was in the 1730's that Handel put together his first set of organ concertos, using them to entertain his public during the breaks in performances of operas and oratorios. Not everything in them was newly composed: Concerto No. 3 is based on an earlier trio sonata, for example, and No. 6 is the organ version of Handel's harp concerto.

Bob van Asperen is an ideal interpreter of these gorgeous little works, and I am pretty sure that Handel himself would have loved this CD. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is one of England's leading period-instrument ensembles, here consisting of 7 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, a double bass, two recorders or oboes, a bassoon, a harpsichord and a theorbo..
Bob van Asperen plays with verve and delicacy, and as the engineering is well-nigh perfect, the whole is one of those delights for the ears that any fan of baroque music will gladly fork out for

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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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