The selections on organist Martin Schmeding's Grand Musical Entertainment: Händel for Organ & Orchestra are not actual transcriptions from the composer's hand, but modern arrangements of pieces that are very much in the spirit of his concert practices. Handel was widely admired for his brilliant organ playing, and his organ concertos were a huge sensation at performances of his oratorios. This recording invites listeners to imagine what Handel's extemporaneous recitals might have been like, whether in the solo organ versions of the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon and the Music for the Royal Fireworks, or as concertante pieces based on music from the oratorios, as in the Concerto in C major and the three suites from Saul. Schmeding gives lively renditions that paint a vivid portrait of Handel at the keyboard, and the instrumentation of the Münchener Bach-Orchester evokes the rather large ensemble Handel engaged for his oratorios. A curiosity here is the Carillon Suite, adapted from Saul, which calls for a celeste, which replaces the glockenspiel that Handel sometimes included in his orchestra. While Schmeding and company take a freewheeling approach to re-creating Handel's entertainments, likely to offend purists, it's easy to think that he would approve of the lively music this CD offers.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Solomon, HWV 67|
|Concerto in C major, for organ and orchestra (from Saul, HWV 53)|
|Music for the Royal Fireworks, concerto in D major, for organ, HWV 351|
|Saul, King of Israel, for organ and orchestra (Three suites from Saul, HWV 53)|