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Handel Recorder Sonatas - Daily Telegraph

24 July 2004
Daily Telegraph
Richard Wigmore

These recorder sonatas from the mid-1720s may be shavings from Handel's workshop but, they are full of vivid, elegantly crafted music, ranging from noble, elegiac arias - always a Handel speciality - to dance numbers that mingle Gallic grace with Anglo-Saxon sturdiness. Never one to under-exploit a good idea, Handel drew freely on music from his early Italian years, and later recycled one of the sonatas, in F, as an organ concerto.

Pamela Thorby and Richard Egarr have made their mark as two of the finest chamber players on the Baroque scene and it would be hard to imagine more infectious performances of these sonatas. Playing from the composer's original manuscripts, they combine brilliance, fantasy and, in the slow numbers, an elegant command of the long Handelian line. Ornamentation always sounds spontaneously exuberant.

Above all, this is a true pertnership, with recorder and keyboard (harpsichord in three sonatas, chamber organ in the others) galvanising and striking sparks off each other. As a bonus, we have Richard Egarr's imaginitive account of the "Harmonious Blacksmith" suite, setting the seal on a thoroughly delectable disc.

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