With all the dandy digital recordings of Handel's Concerto Grossi Op. 3 and Opus 6 available, why choose this one made in the late '80s and early '90s with Christopher Hogwood leading the Handel & Haydn Society of Boston with Daniel Stepner, Stanley Ritchie, and Linda Quan starring as the violin soloists? Choosing a recording of Handel's two sets of concertos is, of course, inevitable in the life of any listener: along with Bach's Brandenburgs and Vivaldi's Four Seasons, they form the core repertoire of high Baroque orchestral music. But why choose Hogwood? For one thing, he has a well-deserved reputation as a Handel conductor: his Messiah was lean and muscular, expressive and intense, lyrical and dramatic -- characteristics of these performances as well. For another thing, he has a dedicated band in the Handel & Haydn Society, original instrument players of skill and taste who seem inspired by Hogwood's leadership. For a third thing, the sound of the Avie recording, while not always as clear as it ought to be, is still richly evocative and warmly atmospheric. Should Hogwood be the first choice? Listen, compare, and judge for yourself.
Handel: 6 Concerti Grossi, Op. 3; 12 Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 Review
by James Leonard