Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

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Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:22 pm

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Under Huggett's direction the playing is intimate, stylish, crisp and clean without being fussy. The sense of ensemble is impressive, like band and organist and conductor were one brain, one thought, one hand. Halls' playing is brilliant, and his improvisations natural and assured, by turns moving and spritely. I've heard a lot of recordings of Handel's organ concertos, but to my mind this is the best I've ever heard since Ton Koopman traversed the literature long ago on discs that are next to impossible to find now. I can't wait for the release of Op. 7.
Matthew Halls (Conductor, Harpsichord, Organ)

Born: England

The English conductor, harpsichordist and organist, Matthew Halls, was educated at Oxford University.

Having initially established his reputation as a keyboard player, Matthew Halls has worked extensively with many of Europe’s foremost early music groups and in opera houses including The Netherlands Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Komische Oper Berlin, as well as at venues such as The Megaron, Athens, Lincoln Center, New York and Wiener Festwochen. In recent years he has been a member of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. He was temporarily appointed director of The King’s Consort from June 2007 to May 2009. He has recorded numerous CD's as a continuo player and soloist. He has also performed with Baroque orchestras including Les Arts Florissants and The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Together with violinist Monica Huggett, Matthew Halls makes up the core of the chamber music ensemble.

Matthew Halls has established himself as one of today’s leading young conductors. Hall has appeared as a guest conductor with both Baroque ensembles (The English Concert, Portland Baroque Orchestra) and with modern orchestras (Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, London Mozart Players). He has conducted in such prominent venues as Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; La Cité de la Musique, Paris; the Konzerthaus, Berlin; and at the Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels. Beyond the early repertoire for which he has initially become known, Halls is known for his passion for the Germanic repertoire, particularly Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Schumann and Schubert. As a conductor of choral music he has conducted an eclectic cross section of the repertoire, juxtaposing composers as diverse as Byrd and Benjamin Britten, Gesualdo and Arnold Schoenberg.

Matthew Halls is now firmly established as a conductor of international repute, having made significant debuts with orchestras such as Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Hessischer Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester, Norrköping Sinfonieorchester, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo and the London Mozart Players. Halls’ debut with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra early in the 2008-2009 season led to an immediate reinvitation to conduct the final concert of the Edinburgh International Festival this year, whilst his debuts at Handelfestspiele Halle and Central City Opera Colorado also resulted in immediate reinvitations, the latter to conduct a production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Forthcoming orchestral engagements include concerts with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Iceland Symphony, Hamburger Symphoniker and Les Violons du Roy.

In May 2009, Matthew Halls conducted the much anticipated inaugural performance of the exciting new group, Retrospect Ensemble, of which he is Artistic Director. The launch concert, a performance of Georg Frideric Handel’s oratorio Jephtha at the opening night of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, was closely followed by the ensemble’s debut at the Edinburgh International Festival, performing a programme of Bach cantatas with soprano Carolyn Sampson. Future plans include their debut at the Dresdner Musikfestspiele, tours of Europe and to the Far East, an annual series at Wigmore Hall, (which will form the backbone of their concert diary) and a recording agreement with the innovative Linn Records.

Matthew Halls has a long established pedigree in the opera house. Having become known as one of the leading chorus masters in Europe, he has subsequently conducted a wide range of repertoire with companies such as English Touring Opera, New Chamber Opera and Amsterdam Bach Festival. Last season he conducted the UK premiere of Georg Benda’s opera-singspiel Romeo and Juliet in conjunction with Bampton Classical Opera and London Mozart Players. His operatic repertoire naturally covers all the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical works, but also extends to a wide range of much later repertoire, with a particular focus on the Italian Bel Canto and the B. Britten operas. His association with both The Netherlands Opera and Nationale Reisopera Holland have included productions of Verdi's Luisa Miller, B. Britten's Peter Grimes and Bellini's Norma, as well as G.F. Handel’s Hercules, Samson, Solomon and Saul.

Matthew Halls remains very active as a harpsichordist, with Bach recitals at venues across the UK, including the South Bank Centre and Wigmore Hall, and performances including the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) as far afield as Israel, Ottawa, Quebec City and Moscow.

Following his studies, Matthew Halls joined the teaching faculty of the Oxford University for five years. Passionately committed to education and working with young musicians, the development of Retrospect Ensemble’s Young Artist Programme has been a priority for him. Matthew is also a tutor for the European Union Baroque Orchestra and regularly teaches on summer schools and courses such as the Jerusalem Early Music Workshop and the Dartington International Summer School.

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Halls-Matthew.htm
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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Ted Quanrud » Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:21 pm

Hi Corlyss --

The Simon Preston/Trevor Pinnock recordings of the Handel organ concertos (Archiv) have served me well for years, but I'm ready to hear and possibly acquire some new recordings of these works. Thanks for the recommendation.

The Retrospect Ensemble isn't exactly new. It is the name adopted by the trustees of the former King's Consort after its founder Robert King was released from prison last year and has since reclaimed the original name. King claims he is going to reorganize the Kings Consort, but it is undestandable if many of the players do not want to rejoin him.

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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by stenka razin » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:25 am

Corylss, the Menuhin/Preston version on a very inexpensive EMI Triples is a good investment. Are you familiar with it? Plenty of life in this recording and worth getting for the price, my friend. 8)

Thank you for making me aware of your recommendation. I will check it out. 8)


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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:21 pm

I have the Sonnerie disc and also hope for the remaining Concertos to be recorded, my first set was the Koopman which is now available as a six disc set for only $30 as part of Warners Handel Edition and you get the Keyboard Suites by Scott Ross and Olivier Beaumont thrown in for good measure, for anyone with SACD players the original Quad recordings by Daniel Chorzempa and Jaap Schröder are available on Pentatone, also, Richard Eggar has recorded both the Opus 4 and Opus 7 Concertos for Harmonia Mundi and they too are on SACD...all of Eggar's Handel Recordings are second to none...

Snap up this great bargain from Koopman before it disappears...

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Dri ... ame_role=2
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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Lance » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:59 pm

How do any of these new organ concerto recordings compare to those E. Power Biggs did for Columbia/Sony Classical? Another set I thoroughly enjoyed were those performed by Marie-Claire Alain with Paillard conducting [American Decca].
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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:11 pm

Lance wrote:How do any of these new organ concerto recordings compare to those E. Power Biggs did for Columbia/Sony Classical? Another set I thoroughly enjoyed were those performed by Marie-Claire Alain with Paillard conducting [American Decca].
I can't imagine Biggs Barnstorming thru these delicate works with anything other than two big left feet, Marie-Claire Allen I have never heard...Eggar's discs are just about perfect if you want modern sound, otherwise join Corlyss in snapping up the Koopman set... :D
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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:12 am

Lance wrote: E. Power Biggs
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You have to anesthetize me first.
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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:39 am

stenka razin wrote:Corylss, the Menuhin/Preston version on a very inexpensive EMI Triples is a good investment. Are you familiar with it? Plenty of life in this recording and worth getting for the price, my friend. 8)

Thank you for making me aware of your recommendation. I will check it out. 8)


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Yes, this is the recording I have, too. Sound and interpretations are first-rate.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by val » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:47 am

I love the recent (2007) version of this opus IV, by Lorenzo Ghielmi with the Divina Armonia Ensemble. It is very, very beautiful. The quality of the recording is also amazing.

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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Lance » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:04 am

Say what you will ... Biggs AND Fox did much to enhance the love of organ music to a generation that might not have otherwise ever taken an interest in organ music, especial that of JSB. Biggs, of course, traveled the world recording on very special and historical organs. He has left quite an incredible legacy. Biggs was also a scholar of the highest order and garnered quite a reputation during his lifetime. Have you heard the Biggs recordings of the Handel organ concerti?
Chalkperson wrote:
Lance wrote:How do any of these new organ concerto recordings compare to those E. Power Biggs did for Columbia/Sony Classical? Another set I thoroughly enjoyed were those performed by Marie-Claire Alain with Paillard conducting [American Decca].
I can't imagine Biggs Barnstorming thru these delicate works with anything other than two big left feet, Marie-Claire Allen I have never heard...Eggar's discs are just about perfect if you want modern sound, otherwise join Corlyss in snapping up the Koopman set... :D
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Stunningly Beautiful Set of Handel's Op. 4 Organ Concertos

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:23 pm

Lance wrote:Have you heard the Biggs recordings of the Handel organ concerti?
No, of course not, it's easier to dismiss him that way... :mrgreen:

Being serious, unfortunately, there are none of those recordings available, ArkivMusik has one concerto on one of their re-issues, I never took to his recordings or those by Virgil Fox, I found them too heavy and plodding for my taste and I doubt that they were light and breezy interpretations, I much prefer a lighter touch in organ works, I also don't like Oliver Latry for the same reason, maybe i'm wrong, either way i'll pass on buying more recordings by these heavy handed artists, unlike the pianists (Cortot etc) that i'm not keen on because of their sloppy playing I am not suggesting that any of these Organists make badly performed recordings, I simply don't enjoy them...I think that we differ on many "American" artists, I don't like Mario Lanza either or Maureen Forrester for that matter, all these artists made recordings at approximately the same time and as I have mentioned before people have a tendency to enjoy home grown product, I was thinking the other day about something Henry Slofstra said about my taste in Conductors, he said that I have a bias towards Russians because I like Mravinsky, Kondrashin and Ancerl (who is Czech) I was about to respond that it was not true, I also like Talich, Kubelik, and Dorati very much but all of them are East European...to qualify my taste I would point out that I was naming Conductors that I am pretty much a completist on, I like dozens more but would not purchase every work by them, the same goes for String Quartets, my taste is with the Eastern European or Russian ones, not their American, or, for that matter, British counterparts, like everything it's purely a mater of taste and opinion...
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