Georg Friedrich Handel

Water Music

Music for the Royal Fireworks

Le Concert des Nations

Manfredo Kraemer, concertino

Jordi Savall, conductor

Alia Vox, 1993 (2008)

This recording, conducted by Jordi Savall, collects two celebrated works that Georg Friedrich Handel composed for two royal occasions: Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. The former was written for the trip from Whitehall to Chelsea that King George I and his courtiers made on 17th July 1717, while the latter was performed in Green Park on 27th April 1749 to celebrate the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.

There is something similar in the rendition of Water Music and of Music for the Royal Fireworks that conductor Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations give of Handel’s masterpieces. They share the same triumphant joy, a joy expressed with straightforward energy in pieces as Alla Hornpipe from the Suite no. 1 of Water Music and La Réjouissance from Music from the Royal Fireworks. This said, the first work is more convivial and it is clear that Savall does not intend it as an ostentation, but rather as music where brightness of sound and lightness are everything.

This is manifest in exquisite pieces as the Menuet and the Gigue from the Suite no. 1: the former is lightly veined with melancholy, but a melancholy that is everything but lasting, while the latter is performed with the same vivacity of a dance (by the way, what the gigue is). Other pieces, as the Allegro and the Menuet from the Suite no. 2, are joyous rather than sumptuous and are enchanting with their luminosity, a feature anyway that can be appreciated even better in the transparency of the slow movements, as the Air from the same Suite no. 2.

Savall’s enthusiasm leads to a spectacular performance of the Music for the Royal Fireworks. The sound is thundering, pompous, and it is easy to imagine with vividness the firework display while hearing the unrestrained instruments reproducing the booms of the fireworks.