Handel’s successful blend of new composition and arrangements of existing pieces in his Op. 4 organ concertos is winningly conveyed by this excellent recording. Van Asperen’s stylish playing and appropriate registration, aided by sensitive orchestral support, emphasise this music’s startling diversity. No. 1’s improvisatory organ solos; the expressive contrast between violin and cello concertino and organ in No. 3, and the enchanting atmosphere of the more delicately scored No. 6 are notable highlights.– Nicholas Rast, BBC Music Magazine
George Frideric Handel (23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759) was a German-born British Baroque composer famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Born in a family indifferent to music, Handel received critical training in Halle, Hamburg and Italy before settling in London (1712) as a naturalized British subject in 1727. By then he was strongly influenced by the great composers of the Italian Baroque and the middle-German polyphonic choral tradition.
Though not as popular as his Concerti Grossi, Handel's Organ Concertos have been fair game for recording artists in recent years. They are not terribly well known but they attract readily when heard. As most Handel watchers know, there are three sets of Organ Concertos, only one of which - Opus 4 - was published in the composer's lifetime. It is not unusual for record labels to pick and choose a selection of the most obviously showy or ear-friendly ones. There is nothing wrong with this, since these pieces were produced to act as interludes in Oratorios rather than to be played in sequence. Nevertheless, and not least because this set represents about the only thing that could just about pass muster for 'authenticity' in the genre, it is good to have a 67 minute CD of the six Opus 4 works - in G Minor, B Flat, G minor again, F, F again, and B flat…
The performance by Lorenzo Ghielmi (professor of organ at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis) and his Italian band La Divina Armonia is consistently delightful and his playing sparkles with vitality and character's counterparts. The resonant sound makes the small band sound much bigger than it really is, and Ghielmi's organ sounds much like a "church" organ. David Vickers (Gramophone)
Surprising as it may seem, these very distinguished accounts of the Handel Organ Concertos Op. 4 and Op. 7 are now more than 25 years old–yet they've more than stood the test of time, and indeed are still virtually unrivalled. Herbert Tachezi's performances always are fascinating to hear anew: note for example how he constantly stimulates interest with delightful ornamentation of melody lines, and the way he approaches caesuras in the texts with proper attention paid to their structural and harmonic settings. […] Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Vienna Concentus Musicus plays superbly, with a deftness of touch and technical clarity that perfectly suits the music. (Michael Jameson, classicstoday.com)
Monica Huggett and her ensemble Sonnerie scored a hit on Avie with their recording of Handel's Trio Sonatas, Op. 2. They continue their traversal of Handel's chamber works with the Organ Concertos, Op. 4, featuring soloist Matthew Halls, a brilliant young soloist who spins out Handel's endlessly tuneful works with an improvisatory flair that the composer - himself a virtuoso organist - would surely have approved of.