Richard Egarr / Academy of Ancient Music

Handel: Trio Sonatas, Opp. 2 & 5

  • AllMusic Rating
    10
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Harpsichordist and ensemble leader Richard Egarr, in his rather argumentative booklet notes here (given in English, German, and French, with some of the humor stripped out in the last of these), tries to claim that Handel's two sets of trio sonatas, Op. 2 and Op. 5, are somehow neglected works. They've had plenty of recordings, and the attempt to strip them from the Handel canon that he darkly alludes to seems unlikely to succeed. It hardly matters, however, for these superb readings outstrip everything else on the market, including Egarr's own earlier versions. Here he works with a pair of Britain's top historical-instrument specialists, violinists Pavlo Beznosiuk and Rodolfo Richter, each playing gorgeous instruments from the third quarter of the seventeenth century. "Warning -- Musicians at Play," reads the heading on the notes, and that's the key to these versions: Egarr is of the opinion that these works are, above all, entertaining. He keeps the players to a very light touch in the slow movements, with delightful results, and he draws contrasts between purely melodic Italianate fast movements and those, especially in the later Op. 5 set, that refer to English models and other styles. Giving top billing to Egarr suggests a keyboard-centered interpretation, and indeed his harpsichord is very active in ornamenting the music, but it never takes over. This is top-notch Baroque playing in every way; it's on the forward edge of historical performance, but it has a lightness, variety, and sheer sense of fun that make it accessible to any listener at all. The one flaw is the sound, which is detailed (the venue, Potton Hall, has been used successfully by Harmonia Mundi in the past), but leaves the musicians in a strangely disembodied limbo. The double-CD set, which marks the last volume in Harmonia Mundi's effort to record all of Handel's opus-numbered publications, can nevertheless be strongly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata No. 1 in B minor, HWV 386 (Op. 2/1)
1 3:42
2 2:46
3 2:46
4 2:15
Sonata No. 2 in G minor, HWV 387 (Op. 2/2)
5 3:25
6 1:20
7 3:10
8 1:28
Sonata No. 3 in B flat major, HWV 388 (Op. 2/3)
9 2:27
10 2:35
11 3:33
12 3:29
Sonata No. 4 in F major, HWV 389 (Op. 2/4)
13 2:20
14 2:53
15 2:13
16 2:10
17 2:27
Sonata No. 5 in G minor, HWV 390 (Op. 2/5)
18 2:41
19 2:57
20 1:59
21 3:29
Sonata No. 6 in G minor, HWV 391 (Op. 2/6)
22 2:11
23 2:09
24 2:44
25 1:53

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata No. 1 in A major, HWV 396 (Op. 5/1)
1 2:17
2 1:40
3 0:55
4 2:15
5 1:09
Sonata No. 2 in D major, HWV 397(Op. 5/2)
6 0:58
7 1:42
8 4:13
9 1:33
10 0:37
Sonata No. 3 in E minor, HWV 398(Op. 5/3)
11 2:21
12 1:18
13 2:40
14 1:10
15 1:24
16 1:27
Sonata No. 4 , HWV 399 (Op. 5/4)
17 2:15
18 4:01
19 4:43
20 1:04
21 2:01
Sonata No. 5 in G major, HWV 400 (Op. 5/5)
22 2:39
23 3:00
24 0:58
25 2:23
26 2:21
27 0:58
Sonata No. 6 in F major, HWV 401 (Op. 5/6)
28 2:28
29 2:01
30 2:28
31 2:45
32 2:13
Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, HWV 402 (Op. 5/7)
33 2:40
34 2:31
35 1:33
36 1:17
37 2:01
blue highlight denotes track pick