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Handel: "Piano" Concertos 7-12 - Kirschnereit, Skou Larsen

Handel: "Piano" Concertos 7-12 - Kirschnereit, Skou Larsen

CPO  777 855-2

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Handel: "Piano" Concertos 7-12, Op. 7 HWV 306-311

Matthias Kirschnereit (piano)
Deutsche Neuekammerakademie Neuss
Lavard Skou Larsen


Conclusion of a Sensational and Unprecedented Edition

We are now finally presenting to you our last CD featuring Handel's organ concertos in the version for piano and orchestra. The positive response to our first two CDs in this series has shown that the transfer of the solo part of Handel's organ concertos to today's piano is a logical and obvious move. Johann Sebastian Bach's harpsichord concertos belong to the standard repertoire of all world-class pianists, and the same principle truly applies to Handel.

On our third CD the pianist Matthias Kirschnereit turns to the Organ Concertos op. 7 of 1761. These six concertos were all uniformly scored with two oboes, string orchestra, and a bass fortified by a bassoon. Now and again Handel skillfully prescribed these instruments in order to produce richly varied sound effects. John Christopher Smith, Handel's copyist and assistant, first compiled this collection after the composer's death – which means that these works, unlike the Six Concertos op. 4 (1738, 24211387) and some other »Concertos for Harpsichord or Organ« (Nos. 13-16, 23126676), cannot claim absolute authenticity.

Given the great musical quality of these compositions, however, this is no reason to keep us from listening to this music as fully valid music by Handel. Some of these works display extremely enthralling harmonic modulations and rhythmic variants. They are examples of Handel's superior inspiration and interpreted with just as much inspiration by Matthias Kirschnereit.

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - October 7, 2016

Lovers of organs may have a problem here. Handel’s organ concerti only sound well played on an organ, some might even add, a small one. If that is the case I suggest you forget completely that you are listening to one of them here. Try to approach the music in its own right. Matthias Kirschnereit (Remarks from the artist) argues his case in the liner notes, saying that “earlier composers perhaps would have been perfectly happy with today’s developmental attainments”. The fact that Handel composed his organ concerti without the use of the pedals opens up the possibility to transcribe them for the piano. And besides, Handel too arranged one of his concerti, Opus 4 No. 6, for harp.

These days nobody seems to oppose Bach’s cembalo concerti to be played on a concert grand. Haydn left it open, scoring his concerti ‘for the keyboard’. So, why not Handel? Another sound, a larger orchestra, no period instruments. But it is all so refreshingly different.

Agreed, a piano is not an organ; demands are different, but it would seem to me that only diehard organ aficionados will continue to oppose these transcriptions. Matthias Kirschnereit’s toucher is supple and subtle; Lavard Skou Larsen’s ‘Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss’ support is perfect. What else does one want? Give it a chance and enjoy, like I did. I now have all three volumes and I play them regularly, as I do with the original organ versions, including the one arranged for harp. It makes my musical life so much richer.

Blangy-le-Château
Normandy, France

Copyright © 2016 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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