Trio sonata for 2 violins & continuo in G minor, Op. 2/2, HWV 387
Recorder Sonata in A minor, Op.1/4, HWV 362
Viola da gamba sonata in G minor, (Op.1/6), HWV 364b
Violin Sonata in A major, Op.1/14, HWV 372 (doubtful)
Recorder Sonata in F major, Op.1/11, HWV 369
Trio sonata for 2 violins & continuo in B flat major, Op. 2/3, HWV 388
Spain's Glossa label has reissued a variety of older recordings with attractive zoological artwork that will make the new versions attractive to many buyers. This collection of Handel's instrumental sonatas from the multinational chamber enesemble Arcadia was originally released in 1992 and remains worth hearing in its 2011 version. The booklet notes recount the complex history of the Handel collections known as Op. 1 and Op. 2, with one "Sonata for violin and continuo in A major, HWV 364" (tracks 13-16), that is generally agreed not to be by Handel at all, although it's a reasonable imitation. This might have been noted in the track list somewhere. In general, though, these are fine performances of Handel's small-group sonatas in the Italian style. Recorder player Christoph Ehrsam and violinist Maica Brandão are competent historical-instrument players, but the real attraction here is the flexible, highly musical continuo group under the direction of harpsichordist and group leader Attilio Cremonesi. His genuinely improvisatory keyboard work, backed by shifting configurations of lute and viola da gamba, seems like not just harmonic support for the soloist but like a full partner in the music-making; for all the advances in historical performance, this remains rare in Baroque chamber music. Recommended for any Handel collection or for anyone enamored of the lively world of the Baroque instrumental sonata.