George Frederick Handel

Concerto a due cori No.3 in F major, HWV 334

    Description by James Reel

    By "due cori" Handel (or whoever appended the title) meant not two vocal choirs but two choirs of instruments -- but even this is misleading, because he actually requires three instrumental groupings: one of strings and two each of pairs of oboes, bassoons, and horns. Handel pillaged only two earlier compositions in assembling the third concerto in this trio of works, composing almost all but the final movement fresh for a performance incorporated into a 1747 presentation of his oratorio Judas Maccabaeus.

    So it's two wind choirs that are notable here, and Handel often writes for them antiphonally, one echoing the other. The first movement is a brief French overture, drawn in part from Handel's so-called "Fitzwilliam Overture" for two clarinets and horn, but substantially reworked. The second movement is a long Allegro, opening with antiphonal horn calls, then deploying the full ensemble as it chugs along at a variety of dynamic levels. The third movement, Allegro ma non troppo, consists of a 62-bar dialog between the two wind bands, a question-and-answer or sometimes merely echo routine involving phrases anywhere from one to four measures long. Handel wraps up the movement with a 24-bar tutti bringing in the strings.

    The Adagio provides a minute and a half of D minor repose, the mood of which is broken by the Andante larghetto -- not the lugubrious music one might expect from the tempo marking, but a cheerful, if stately, exercise in antiphony contrasting all the colors of the orchestra, including the strings. The concluding Allegro, with its brilliant and difficult horn writing (especially at the beginning), is a rewrite of a hunting aria from Handel's 1730 opera Partenope; the music develops into a gigue, with the horn calls continuing throughout.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture
    2. Allegro
    3. Allegro ma non troppo
    4. Adagio
    5. Andante larghetto
    6. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2018
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMM 905272
    2016
    Archiv Produktion
    0002894795814
    2015
    Various Artists
    Brilliant Classics
    95050BR
    2015
    Arcana
    A 386
    2014
    Sony Classical
    88843013332
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88697963342
    2012
    Tafelmusik Media
    TMK 1011CD
    2010
    Decca
    2009
    Various Artists
    Decca
    4781190
    2009
    Various Artists
    Decca
    2008
    Berlin Classics
    0115052
    2005
    Berlin Classics
    0011392
    2004
    Novalis
    150705
    2004
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    92390
    2000
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    469635
    2000
    Passacaille
    922
    2000
    Deutsche Grammophon
    469145
    1999
    Archiv Produktion
    463094
    1999
    London
    458 333-2LC8
    1998
    MDG
    6050762
    1998
    Sony Music Distribution
    63073
    1997
    Philips
    454363
    1997
    Sony Music Distribution
    63269
    1997
    L'Oiseau-Lyre
    455709
    1995
    Various Artists
    Novalis
    150111
    1995
    Archiv Produktion
    447280
    1987
    Archiv Produktion
    423149
    1985
    Archiv Produktion
    415129
    L'Oiseau-Lyre
    411721
    Brilliant
    92390/31