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HANDEL: Piano Concertos – Matthias Kirschnereit, p./ Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss/ Lavard Skou Larsen – CPO

HANDEL: Piano Concertos, Op. 7 – Matthias Kirschnereit, piano/ Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss/ Lavard Skou Larsen – CPO multichannel SACD 777855-2; 75:02 (8-12-16) [Distr. by Naxos] *****: 

A wonderful surround recording of the Op. 7 piano concertos of Handel.

In 2013, Matthias Kirschnereit recorded Handel’s Six Organ Concertos Op.  4 on piano, backed by the Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss, across the Rhine from Düsseldorf, conducted by Lavard Skou Larsen. I listened to that CD many times, not just enchanted but with a sense of Handel transformed.

Even more than Bach, Handel’s musical magnificence in his many organ concertos is so openly-scored that the depth and beauty of these concertos can be heard in full on virtually any instrumental configurations. It was then, and remains now for me, a discovery akin to hearing Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations for the first time, but with a far greater knowledge and understanding of the Baroque aesthetic.

Kirschnereit writes in his notes, “It is known that Handel enlivened his performances with embellishments and variations. Everything is set, everything is spontaneous – for me a balancing act! In fact quite a lot of the ornaments, varied playing figures, and cadenzas emerged during the recordings!”

The surround sound, recorded at the German Radio Chamber Music Hall in Cologne, is as pure and wonderful as the music.

—Laurence Vittes

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