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Ref: CDG1199

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21 tracks 66 min
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Chamber music by Handel & Stanley played on instruments of the period

A collection of chamber music from Georgian England by the leading composers of the day. The programme includes a chamber version of Handel's 'Water Music' transcribed by The Gift of Music® team from an eighteenth century manuscript in Christ Church, Oxford. Other highlights include popular music from London's pleasure gardens including a beautiful flute solo by John Stanley.

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Suites & Solos
Chamber music by Handel & Stanley played on instruments of the period

A collection of chamber music from Georgian England by the leading composers of the day. The programme includes a chamber version of Handel's 'Water Music' transcribed by The Gift of Music® team from an eighteenth century manuscript in Christ Church, Oxford. Other highlights include popular music from London's pleasure gardens including a beautiful flute solo by John Stanley.

1 The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
The European Union Baroque Orchestra directed by Roy Goodman

2 The Harmonious Blacksmith George Frideric Handel
Martin Souter, harpsichord

Sonata No2 in G major Johann Sterkel (1750-1817)
3 Allegro con brio
4 Rondo Adante
Jenny Thomas, flute, Martin Souter, harpsichord

Solo No3 in G major John Stanley (1712-1786)
5 Adagio
6 Allegro
7 Menuet
Guy Williams, flute, Gabriel Amherst, cello, Martin Souter, harpsichord

Water Music Suite (Oxford version) George Frideric Handel
8 Air
9 Minuet
10 Bouree
11 Hornpipe
12 Minuet
13 Minuets
14 Country Dance
15 Lentement
16 Air
17 Minuet
Oxford Baroque directed by Guy Williams

Sonata in A major Ignace Pleyel (1757-1831)
18 Allegro
19 Andante
20 Rondo Allegro assai
Jenny Thomas, flute, Martin Souter, piano

21 Passacaille George Frideric Handel
Martin Souter, harpsichord

CCL CDG1199
Cover image: The Music Party - Frederick, Prince of Wales and his sisters c.1733 (oil on canvas) Philippe Mercier (1689-1760) Cliveden House/The Bridgeman Art Library
This compilation p & c 2008 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

Suites & Solos
Chamber music by Handel & Stanley played on instruments of the period

Georgian England was a prosperous place, and London was one of the richest and busiest cities in the world. Musicians flocked there from all over Europe, just as they had sought work at the English court in previous centuries, and the music-making of London was therefore surprisingly cosmopolitan. The most famous European who built a career within these shores was the German musician, George Frideric Handel. He worked in Hamburg, playing harpsichord and violin at the opera, and studied the latest musical styles in Italy, before taking London by storm in the second decade of the eighteenth century. He made the great capital his home, and won and lost at least two fortunes by promoting opera and oratorio in the city's major theatres, by seeking and obtaining royal patronage, by publishing his music, and by making it available to the surprisingly large number of commercial musical enterprises which flourished there. The music by Handel which has been selected for this album reflects most of these preoccupations. His first set of harpsichord suites, which includes both the 'Harmonious Blacksmith' variations and the mighty 'Passacaille' were published in London in 1720, and the preface to the beautifully printed volume thanks the people of London for taking the composer to their hearts, and giving him welcome. The overture 'The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba' is taken from one of Handel's great operas, 'Solomon', while his 'Water Music' suite received an early performance (this was a work which went through several permutations) for George I, during a famous river trip along the Thames in 1717. The King liked the music so much, he insisted on an immediate repeat performance. The version heard here is an early one, with a small number of instruments, including an important bassoon part, which survives in a manuscript in the library of Christ Church, Oxford.

The other three composers heard here never achieved quite the same international success as the mighty Handel, but their music was, nevertheless, successful in its time. John Stanley was a blind organist who wrote considerable amounts of lovely music, which he directed himself in frequent performances in the pleasure gardens of London. His flute sonatas are typical of the easy, lyrical English style of the period. Echoes of Handel can of course be heard in them, since all English music from the 1720s to at least the end of the following century was composed in the shadow of the great man, but the 'Solo' in G major is a lovely piece, for all that. Sterkel and Pleyel are both from a later generation of composers. Both had phenomenally successful careers, since both were canny enough to write easy music and to get it into print, and then distributed effectively throughout Europe. At the end of the eighteenth century and beyond, it was their music that would most likely have been heard in the salons and music rooms of England, rather than the music of their great contemporaries such as Mozart or even Beethoven. The Sterkel sonata heard here trips along nicely. It has neither the absolute melodic perfection nor the brooding intensity of those incomparable Viennese masters, but it is well written and suits its chosen instruments perfectly - a delightful, diverting piece. The Pleyel sonata is on a much grander scale, and, in fact, is not so far removed in style from some of Beethoven's early chamber works. Its opening movement is particularly arresting, filled with the grand gestures of the mature Classical style, while the relaxed 'Rondo' finale is typical of the late eighteenth century, with pleasing repetitions of the main theme, and discursive interludes in which Pleyel reveals significant musical craftsmanship.


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