Il Giardino Armonico
Handel: Concerti Grossi Op. 6


Georg Friedrich Handel’s Concerti Grossi—in which a small group of solo instruments is contrasted with a full orchestra—fell into neglect even as his operas and oratorios came back into fashion, said Andrew Clark in the Financial Times. This recording by Milan-based II Giardino Armonico should redress the injustice. The ensemble’s instrumental balance is “exemplary,” and Handel’s “joyous fugues are nimble, crisp, and fresh.” The German composer and longtime London resident “shows himself the most cosmopolitan of all baroque composers,” said Hugh Canning in the London Times. “Il Giardino Armonico brings an Italianate verve to their performances” and for Nos. 1, 2, 5, and 6 chooses to use—and even expand—oboe parts that Handel added later. The ensemble’s frequent improvisations add “trills, turns, arpeggiated flourishes, and even substantial cadenzas to the printed score.” It isn’t the way traditionalists expect to hear Handel played, but Il Giardino Armonico makes this three-century-old music sound nearly new.