This release from Australia's ABC Classics label falls into the classification of modern-instrument readings of Baroque music that attempt to draw on the lessons of the historical-performance movement. The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has made well-regarded recordings of Australian repertory and of music from the late 19th and 20th centuries, and they respond readily to the interpretations proposed by conductor Graham Abbott. Whether those interpretations make sense is up to individual listeners to decide. Abbott scales the Music for the Royal Fireworks and two suites from the Water Music down to modest dimensions, presumably to give the music the transparency of historical-instrument approaches. But these were "outdoor" pieces, originally played by large groups and written in such a way as to give space to natural brass instruments that would have made plenty of noise. The decorous sounds coming from the orchestra hark back to the early days of Baroque performance, when even Handel had a somewhat delicate quality, and it may be that a considerable constituency for quiet Baroque standards exists. For others, however, this recording may combine the worst of both worlds. Sample the Allegro from the Water Music Suite in F major, HWV 348, with its well-controlled brasses and deliberate avoidance of rhythmic accents, to see which camp you might fall into.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351|
|Water Music: Suite in F major, HWV 348|
|Water Music: Suite in D major, HWV 349|