Recorder Sonata in C major, Op.1/7, HWV 365
Recorder Sonata in D minor, Op.1/9a, HWV 367a
Recorder Sonata in F major, Op.1/11, HWV 369
Recorder Sonata in A minor, Op.1/4, HWV 362
Recorder Sonata in B flat major, HWV 377
Recorder Sonata in G minor, Op.1/2, HWV 360
The "cello" sonatas on this album are Handel's "Recorder Sonatas, Op. 1," transcribed for the cello. Recycling material from one instrument to another was common in the early eighteenth century and was resorted to by Handel, Bach, and Vivaldi, not to mention numerous lesser lights. The lack of Handel compositions for solo cello is explained by the fact that the instrument was in its infancy when he wrote most of his chamber music; Vivaldi's cello sonatas date from around 1740, by which time Handel could afford to occupy himself with grand public spectacles. The British duo that calls itself the Brook Street Band, consisting of the inimitably named cellist Tatty Theo and harpsichordist Carolyn Gibley, is thus on solid ground in remaking these pieces into cello works; the transcriptions tend to place the cello in the middle of the harpsichord's right-hand notes, but Gibley is sensitive to this problem, and the players function nicely as a duo. Theo does not fall into the group of historical-instrument players who approach Baroque instrumental sonatas with abandon, and there are times she could use a bit more abandon. Sample the distinctly un-Sicilian siciliana, track 15, from the "Sonata in F major, Op. 1, No. 11," here transcribed to C major. Her playing is never less than sprightly, however, and she accomplished a level of pitch precision that is (or ought to be) the envy of many another Baroque cellists. A bigger problem is sound, which at times is over-reverberant enough to be muddy; the album was recorded in a church, but domestic music of this type often benefits from a warmer sound environment. And then there is a mysterious notation in the booklet: "Reverberation included in this recording from Classical Reverberation Impulses produced by Ernest Cholakis for Numerical Sound." It's not clear exactly what this is supposed to mean, but it doesn't sound particularly helpful. This disc nevertheless offers a pleasant hour of Handel for cello lovers annoyed by the sparsity of Baroque repertory for the instrument.
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