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George Frideric Handel

Concerto Grosso Op. 3, No. 4  Play

Baroque Band Ensemble

Recorded on 06/06/2009, uploaded on 10/02/2010

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Concerto Grosso Op. 3, No. 4 in F Major        George Frideric Handel

Overture, Allegro, Andante, Allegro, Allegro

The latin verb, concertare, implies group activity. Groups may do a good many things together—two examples of these things might be struggling or conversing, and it is these two things that most accurately tell us about what a concerto was and is today.

The first concertos (or concerti, if you prefer the Italian plural) were sacred pieces in which voices and instruments were combined. Lodovico Grossi da Viadana, in 1601, published a collection called "Centi concerti ecclesiastici," or one hundred sacred concertos. These pieces are very simple in their construction, being for one or more voices with the accompaniment of an organ. Nevertheless, they convey a change in thinking about church music: the idea that voices and instruments could join forces without betraying an essential purity expected by the Counter Reformation church. In 1610, the matter became more complicated in the form of the Vespro delta Beata Vergine Maria by Claudio Monteverdi. In this marvellous work, instruments and voices join to combine many different styles and traditions of music all in the same collection.

In the early baroque period, instruments also wanted to jump on the bandwagon, as it were, of "expressing the passions." Conventions that were germane to singers were now being imitated by instrumentalists to make music more spontaneous and expressive. Contrast is something that is dear to the art of baroque painting (consider all of the action taking place, for example, in Peter Paul Rubens's "The Abduction of the Daughters of Leucippus), and it is best represented in music by the "concerto grosso." This word is usually now associated with a type of piece in which there are more than one soloist. What it really means, though, is "big group." Beginning with works by Stradella, Legrenzi and Archangelo Corelli, a concerto would mean a large group (concerto grosso) and a smaller select group (concertino) in dialogue with each other. The contrast in sound between the two groups furnishes grist for the musical argument, as it were. From this point on, it was only a matter of time before a concerto might have only one soloist, as shown by Giuseppe Torelli and Antonio Vivaldi and a host of others.

George Frideric Handel wrote solo concertos in his earlier years, but his mature concertos all deal with general contrast more than with the difference between one player and a largish ensemble. Handel relied heavily on the model established by Corelli—indeed, Corelli's influence cannot be underestimated in the first half of the eighteenth century. Not only Handel, but others, such as Geminiani and Charles Avison found that the Corellian model had not been surpassed as a viable means for dramatic musical expression.    David Schrader

More music by George Frideric Handel

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Sonata opus 1 no.12 Adagio
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Sonata in G minor
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Chaconne in G Major, G 229
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Lucrezia, a cantata
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Concerto Grosso in a minor
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La Resurrezione, excerpts

Performances by same musician(s)

Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestral Suite No. 2 in b minor
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Suite from Bourgeois gentillomme
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Suite from Les Indes Galantes
Johann Sebastian Bach
Harpsichord Concerto in d minor
Marco Uccellini
Aria Sopra "La Bergamesca"
Georg Muffat

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