HANDEL: Organ Concertos (selection) – No. 1 in G Minor Op. 4/1, No. 3 in G Minor, No. 10 in D Minor, No. 14 in A Major, Harp Concerto in B flat major – Christian Schmitt, organ/Charlotte Balzereit, harp/Stuttgart Chamber Orch./Matt – Brilliant Classics

by | Nov 3, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

HANDEL: Organ Concertos (selection) – No. 1 in G Minor Op. 4/1,
No. 3 in G Minor Op. 4/3, No. 10 in D Minor Op. 7/4, No. 14 in A Major
HWV 296a, Harp Concerto in B flat major Op. 4/6 – Christian Schmitt,
organ/Charlotte Balzereit, harp/Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra/Nicol Matt
– Brilliant Classics Multichannel SACD 92605, 73:18 **** [Distr. by E1/Koch]:

This seems to be a new label to the SACD format, with some fine
multichannel releases, including mulitidisc sets such as an 11-disc
collection of Mozart keyboard concertos. The label is based in the
Netherlands – home of such a variety of musical ensembles that it seems
half the population is engaged in this endeavor.  But the skilled
performers in this recording are associated with the Stuttgart Chamber
Orchestra. The harp concerto is included because the work was
transcribed by the composer for organ and is usually included in the
complete organ concertos. Handel, like J.S. Bach, frequently borrowed
from himself (and others) in creating a new work such as these
concertos.  It was not at the time regarded as anything shameful
to “borrow” in such a way. So some of  the concerto movements may
seem awfully familiar to you even if most of the concertos are new to
your ears. Most are in three or four movements, starting with a slow
movement, but usually concluding with a sprightly one.

We have already reviewed a series of PentaTone Quadro SACDs covering
all 16 of the Handel Organ Concertos and featuring organist Daniel
Chorzempa and Jaap Schroder conducting. (Enter in our site search
engine since they are peppered thruout past issues.)  I made a
comparison of some of those with the same four organ concertos on this
single Brilliant Classics disc. The organ is considerably more
distant-sounding on the newer release, and the general tenor of the
performance is more laid-back and relaxed.  Schroder on PentaTone
establishes a more emphatic, Handelian sort of style, with stronger
downbeats and a more marshal rhythmic treatment. This is not to say the
Stuttgart players don’t sound fine; they just sound a bit more like
Mozart than Handel. Although the Brilliant disc is true 5.1 channel
surround, the absence of the center channel on the 4.0 PentaTone series
isn’t missed.

Brilliant lists on several of their SACDs that the original recording
medium was eight-channel digital PCM which was later converted to DSD
for the SACD release. While this is not as purist an approach as
staying in the DSD format from start to finish, it is not a
disappointment if the sampling rate is sufficient – say 96K. Many of
the Universal SACDs used to state in the footnotes that they were
recorded using 44.1K or 48K PCM – hardly taking full advantage of the
hi-res release medium!

– John Sunier

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