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George Frideric Handel

Concerto in B-flat Major for Guitar and Strings  Play

Charles Mokotoff Guitar
Nancia D'Alimonte Conductor
NIH Philharmonic Orchestra

Recorded on 10/11/2008, uploaded on 06/03/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Charles Mokotoff and the NIH Philharmonic perform the Handel Harp Concerto arranged for guitar and strings live in concert on Oct. 11 2008. Originally in B-flat Major, this version was transposed to A Major

Concerto in B-flat Major     George Frideric Handel

The Concerto in B-flat Major is an unusual work in Handel's output, namely, because it is Handel's only concerto for the harp; furthermore, because the harp was a rare choice for the solo instrument of a Baroque concerto. It was completed in early 1736 and premiered on a musical tour de force program at King's Theater in London which included the Ode to St. Cecilia's Day, the "Alexander Feast" Concerto Grosso, and the Organ Concerto in G minor, op. 4 no. 1. Handel later reworked the Concerto for organ and published it as the sixth and last concerto of the opus 4 collection.

As with any Baroque concerto, the Concerto for Harp in B-flat major has three movements. The orchestra is drastically reduced—the bass parts are pizzicato throughout, the violins are muted and only the soft and gentle flutes represent the wind family. This orchestration allows for the soft-spoken harp to easily come to the fore of the ensemble. The first movement gives special prominence to the harp. Extended tutti sections occur only at the opening of the movement and then again at its close. Otherwise, the orchestra enters only briefly to give extra support to two important cadential sections. The first movement lacks the virtuosic flash that would otherwise be expected of a concerto's first movement. Though sixteenth-note passages abound, most are actually quite simple and constructed from melodic figures that lie easily in the hand. The G minor Largettho that follows is likewise largely focused on the solo lines of the harp, with the orchestra taking a slightly more active role in accompanying the soloist. The last movement, in a lilting 3/8 meter and prominent eighth-quarter rhythm, brings the concerto to energetic and joyous close.     Joseph DuBose

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