Looking at the cover of the ABC Classics album depicting a platform diver, the "Op. 6 Concerti Grossi" of Handel
may be the furthest thing from your mind. Harpsichordist and director of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
Paul Dyer explains this choice as an "invitation to immerse yourself in the beauty of Handel's Concerti Grossi." Cheesy analogies aside, the performances contained within the album itself are indeed quite inviting. Written originally as entr'acte pieces for his popular oratorios, these are masterpieces perfectly capable of standing on their own in performance. The influence off Corelli
and his set of "Op. 6 Concertos" is clear, yet Handel's contributions show the clear, individualistic voice of the mature, seasoned composer. Dyer and his orchestra perform these jewels on period instruments, but (fortunately) do not treat them as dusty, fragile pieces of music. Their playing is extremely vigorous, pushing instruments, tempos, and dynamics to the extreme without ever crossing the line into mere showmanship. In fact, their performance decisions are clearly within the parameters of period playing, but with so much more gusto and enthusiasm than can be found on virtually any other recording. Beyond the excitement, the players deliver a technically polished, marvelously in-tune, and nicely balanced performance. The concertino may, at times, be a little bit subdued in volume, but is still clearly audible throughout. ABC's sound is rich and sonorous, even given the orchestra's small numbers. So go ahead and dive in.