I can usually be found sitting among a small gathering bunched in the
front pews after our Sunday service, to hear the organist play the closing
piece. After he recently played something by Handel, I commented to him
that no works by Handel seem to do for me what just about any piece by
JS Bach can do, which is thrill and delight.
This applies to all genres of their music, not just for organ. Handel's
style, to me, is discreet to a flaw: something about how it doesn't clamour
to be noticed just fails to grab me forcefully. Maybe my use of a word like
'sparkle' to get at what I find missing in his works led him to suggest that
the corrective would be to explore Handel's organ concertos.
In just a few days I'd found a few, and soon after that I began to
understand what he'd meant. Almost without exception, this is eventful
and, indeed, *sparkling* music that -- to cite from my meager aquaintance
with such works -- compares well with Haydn's works in the genre.
These 3 CDs contain 13 of Handel's earlier organ concertos, Opus 4 and 7 --
not the complete set, which takes up 5 CDs. These all have three to six
movements, but usually there are four, ranging from about 7 to 20 minutes in
My point here is not so much to urge others to give them a try as to
raise some questions about this area of music that's mostly unknown
to me. I should add that, generally speaking, I don't have the ear or
patience to have become a fan of solo organ music (live, and brief, makes
for a considerable difference). But I appreciate Haydn's organ concertos,
as mentioned, and am also familiar with and enjoy the organ-and-orchestra
works of Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Harald Genzmer.
Other than that, I draw a blank. Can anyone enlighten me as to what
else in this genre is worth seeking?
A curious circumstance in this connection, and one that intrigues me
no end, is that as far as I know JS Bach -- Handel's almost exact
contemporary -- did not compose organ concertos with orchestral
accompaniment ...nor for any kind of accompaniment.
Can anyone suggest any reasons or even speculate about why this turned
out to be so?
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