Handel Concerti grossi Op. 3, Sonata a 5 (2007)


Academy of Ancient Music

Richard Egarr

Anyone performing handel’s Concertos Op. 3 has to tackle a basic problem – the musical text. the edition published by John Walsh in 1734 is by no means perfect, and is regarded with musicological head-scratching. there are no complete autograph manuscripts to help show us the way with these works. today Walsh is generally held in low esteem, criticised for shoddy editions, and equally shoddy business practices. I believe there is more value and trust in these texts, and in the man, than is usually given credit.
Perhaps with a fresh look at the hugely important set of relationships in handel’s London life – those with the various publishers of his scores – we can unearth something more musically positive. By far the most crucial and interesting collaboration for us is that which handel formed with the firm of John Walsh, and which spanned handel’s entire time in England. the story of the Walshes and the early English publications of handel is essential to gain some understanding of the worrisome text of Op. 3.

Handel and the Walsh Publishing Dynasty

The 3 documents that preface these notes show the bare- faced, public facts behind a perhaps much more juicy, private story of the relationship between handel and two generations of the music publishers both named John Walsh. It is a curious fact that although handel and the Walshes collaborated for nearly 5 decades, not one letter between them appears to have survived. the untold story then, particularly for the interesting years just before handel’s Royal Privilege ran out in 1734, can only be fantasized about. 

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Academy of Ancient Music

The Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) is one of the world’s first and foremost period-instrument orchestras. Concerts across six continents and over 250 recordings since its formation by Christopher Hogwood in 1973 demon- strate AAM’s pre-eminence in music of the Baroque and Classical periods. The AAM is Orchestra-in-Residence at the University of Cambridge.

AAM has made a number of celebrated recordings for harmonia mundi. Andrew Manze led the orchestra in Bach’s Solo and Double Violin Concertos, in a Vivaldi programme, Concert for the Prince of Poland, and in concerti grossi by Handel (the Op. 6) and Geminiani (after Corelli’s Op. 5). Paul Goodwin’s releases with AAM include a selec- tion of Christmas music by Schu?tz and his contemporaries, the Mozart singspiel Zaide, and two world premie?re record- ings of selected works by John Tavener: Eternity’s Sunrise and Total Eclipse.

In September 2006, Richard Egarr took up the post of Music Director, succeeding Hogwood who assumes the title of Emeritus Director. Egarr has already undertaken critical- ly-acclaimed work with the AAM including a USA tour and the recording of Bach’s Harpsichord Concertos. During his first season in the new role, Egarr will tour the UK, Europe and the USA, and continue AAM’s strong recording tradi- tion with a series of Handel recordings for harmonia mundi usa, beginning with this release of the Concerti grossi Op. 3.

Richard Egarr

Richard Egarr has worked with all types of keyboards: he has performed repertoire ranging from fifteenth-century organ intabulations, to Dussek, Schumann and Chopin on early pianos, to Berg and Maxwell Davies on modern piano. He is director of the Academy of the Begijnhof, Amsterdam, and is in great demand both as soloist and as accompanist for many of today’s finest artists. His collaboration with long-time duo partner Andrew Manze has been setting new performance standards since 1984.

As a conductor, Egarr has presented a wide range of repertoire – from Baroque opera and oratorio, to works by twentieth-century composers such as John Tavener and orchestral transcriptions by Stokowski. Recently named Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, he appears regularly with this and other ensembles: the Orchestra of the Age of En-lightenment, the Orchestra of the Paris Conservatory, the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Richard Egarr now records exclusively for harmonia mundi usa and has made five recordings of music by

J.S. Bach: the Harpsichord Concertos with Andrew Manze and the Academy of Ancient Music; the Gamba Sonatas with Jaap ter Linden; the Violin Sonatas with Manze and ter Linden; a critically acclaimed recital, “Per cembalo solo...” (Gramophone Editor’s Choice); and the Goldberg Variations, hailed as “a spectacular disc” by the London Times. His most recent solo recording is devoted to Mozart Fantasias and Rondos, performed on an 1805 fortepiano. Egarr’s recordings with Andrew Manze also include the violin sonatas of J.F. Rebel, Pandolfi (Gramophone Award, 2000), Handel (Billboard ® Top Classical Album), Corelli (Gramophone Recording of the Month; the Prix Caecilia, 2003), Biber’s Rosary Sonatas (Edison Award, 2005), and Mozart’s Violin Sonatas, dubbed “the most stimulating

and satisfying Mozart recording of the year” (Chicago Tribune).

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Handel Concerti grossi Op. 3, Sonata a 5 (2007)


Academy of Ancient Music

    Audiophile Audition

BEST OF 2007


“The playing throught is most excellent: clean, crisp, transparent, and flowing, but judiciously paced with natural phrasing and dynamics. The soloist are first-rate, the balance is exemplary.”

Edith Eisler


Egarr's Op.3 ranks among the best. He takes the listener's ears on a tour of Op.3's orchestral interiors. More than most recordings, on Egarr's the strings are kept from dominating the sound, to reveal a new range of shifting colors and highlights seconded by the slightly diffused, timbre-flattering acoustic of the London recording venue, St. John's, Smith Square.

David Patrick Stearns


The Academy of Ancient Music is in world-beating form once more with this magnificent Handel disc. Egarr and the musicians play with dynamism and warmth which suggests that Egarr's tenure with this band is going to be a rewarding one. Long may it last.

Lindsay Kemp

    The Independent

Sparkles with character and invention.

Anna Picard

    BBC Radio 3

I can't think of a great deal that would improve this package: performances are stylish and polished; the recordings are a beauty; and Egarr's notes are exemplary.

    International Record Review

"For those of us who have always secretly preferred the colourful, unruly and slightly raffish qualities of Op.3 to the staid perfection of Op.6 this magnificent recording is both a vindication and an unfailing delight."

Andrew O'Connor

    Classics Today

"One of the nicest things about these performances is that Egarr makes no effort to homogenize what remains a wildly varied selection of movement types and formal structures. Just the opposite: he presents this music as a riot of color and individualized character. The whole production is superbly engineered and presented with Harmonia Mundi's usual care for every detail of production. It doesn't get any better."

David Hurwitz

    BBC Music Magazine

A performance which is bold, confident, and revelling in the colours of the added wind-oboes, recorders, flute and a buzz of Baroque bassoons. Egarr provides a beautifully fluent organ 'improvisation'. Playing throughout is technically superb. The solo oboe and violin duet together in garlands of ornamentation with nonchalant, unstudied ease. Multi-channel reproduction bathes it in ambient resonance while retaining clarity across the three-dimensional aural stage. Not to be missed.

George Pratt

    The Boston Globe

It's the first in a planned series of Handel recordings, and we can hope that all of them have this set's fresh, vibrant energy. The use of winds in these works was particularly novel, and the academy's players are superb throughout.

David Weininger

Handel Concerti grossi Op. 3, Sonata a 5 (2007)


Academy of Ancient Music

Digital Converters: Meitner DSD AD/DA
Producer: Brad Michel, Chris Barrett
Recording Engineer: Brad Michel, Chris Barrett
Recording location: St. John's Smith Square, London England
Recording Software: Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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907415DI: Handel Concerti grossi Op. 3, Sonata a 5
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No. 1 in B-flat major - G minor - I
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No. 5 in D minor - I
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No. 5 in D minor - II Fuga. Allegro
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No. 5 in D minor - III Adagio
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No. 5 in D minor - IV Allegro, ma non troppo
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Sonata a 5 - I Andante
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Sonata a 5 - III Allegro
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