Not everyone would agree that Handel's greatest compositions are his Water Music or the Music for the Royal Fireworks, fine though these pieces are; but this 2007 compilation from Resonance appears to rank these works over many others that would also qualify as "The Best of Handel." Without any nods to the great oratorios, operas, concertos, anthems, chamber, or keyboard works, this album is a misleading repackaging of previously released material that purports on its cover to include Water Music and Royal Fireworks, but actually consists of nothing else besides these works. That's disappointing enough for anyone looking for a greatest-hits collection that might offer samples of Handel's broad output. To make matters worse, these are just average performances with thin sound, played with insufficient energy by the Orchestra da Camera di Milano and the Brunswick-Hanover Chamber Orchestra, conducted respectively by Alessandro Muzio and Georg Fischer. Neither orchestra seems particularly versed in Baroque practices nor works especially hard to make the music feel vibrant and exciting: the torpid, by-the-notes Fireworks displays no drama, no military bravado, and no regal pomp; while slightly better in period style, the routine Water Music has little grace or elegance; and the playing by both orchestras is no better than acceptable. The reproduction is weak and unappealing with a dry, sometimes grating tone that lacks resonance and color.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Music for the Royal Fireworks, for orchestra, HWV 351|
|Water Music Suites Nos 1-3 for orchestra, HWV 348-350|