Handel's Water Music is commonly divided into three suites in F major, D major, and G major, and most complete recordings offer some version of that order. However, this 2013 recording by Manfred Huss and the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien presents the 2007 critical edition of Water Music, based on the oldest copy of Handel's manuscript, and it reveals that all of the pieces were combined into one large suite of nearly 60 minutes duration. While this may be disconcerting to people who have grown attached to a certain order, the scheme of pieces in F major and D minor leading to alternating pieces in D major and G major is not especially disorienting, especially if the listener knows Water Music well. What is a bit startling is the brisk and even brusque way that Huss and his musicians attack the music. Following Baroque performance practice and abjuring any modern approaches, the period instruments ensemble plays with a bright and lean sound, liberal ornamentation, and a strong feeling for rhythm, but the music has an edge that is sometimes arresting. Considering that audibility would have been important to Handel, particularly on the famous boat ride down the Thames, he likely would have had his music played similarly, with crisp accentuation and dynamics that project. This is a splendid super audio recording, and the combination of expert musicianship and spectacular reproduction make it a winner, so it's well worth getting accustomed to the period style for the excellence of the interpretation.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
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