- Sonata (Fantasia) for harpsichord in C major, HWV 577
Getting acquainted with a composer's work is made much easier with a comprehensive, multi-disc sampler than with a single-disc compilation, and that is why this triple-decker from Berlin Classics is a helpful introduction to the glorious music of George Frederick Handel. Because much of his prolific output was composed in the large forms of operas and oratorios, one or two excerpts from "Messiah," the Largo from "Xerxes," or a chorus from "Judas Maccabaeus" can't be representative of his music; and a few selections from his celebrated orchestral suites "Water Music" and "Music for the Royal Fireworks" do little to satisfy the needs of budding collectors. To that end, this survey presents generous servings of Handel's most popular pieces, often in ample sections from the longest works, and in a few instances, whole concertos and suites. The performances by established artists, such as Arleen Augér, Gundula Janowitz, Christiane Oelze, Helmut Koch, along with several excellent German ensembles, are reliably expressive and polished, and though there is a mix of modern and period interpretations and instrumentation, most show agreement on the central ideas of authentic performance practice, and offer tasteful ornamentation, chamber-sized orchestras and smaller groups, and proper basso continuo. Even though the recordings were made over a span of years, the sound levels are generally even and the audio quality is consistently clean across the collection.