This album is devoted to Handel's concertante music for solo oboe, of which only a few concertos have survived. He was particularly fond of the instrument and assigned many solos to it in his oratorios, operas, concerti grossi and sonatas. He is even reported to have said of his early oboe works: 'I used to write like the D-v [Devil] in those days, but chiefly for the oboe, which was my favourite instrument.'
His some 20 concertos for a solo instrument are mainly for the organ and include just one violin concerto and three oboe concertos (HWV 301, 302a and 287). The latter, featured here, is the best known, as it also appears transcribed for other instruments.
Further concertos for oboe have been attributed to Handel by the musicologists Fritz Stein and Fulvio & Sandro Caldini: one in E flat major and two more, both presented here in world-premiere recordings, in C minor.
The 6 Concerti grossi Op.3 form the first printed collection of Handel’s orchestral compositions. Formerly known as the ‘oboe concertos’, the volume was published by John Walsh in 1734 – not necessarily on the composer’s own initiative – from a variety of pieces composed over a period of some 20 years. The orchestration in the Walsh edition is particularly unconvincing, with numerous octave doublings and a virtual absence of elements typical of the concertante style. Vincent Bernhardt has therefore proposed a new instrumentation, organised according to the principle of dialogue between groups that characterises the concertante language of this period. An improvised theorbo prelude precedes the work.
To extend Handel's oboe repertoire the artists have fashioned two concertos, for oboe and oboe d’amore, out of eight selected movements that are essentially built on castrato arias from the operas, a practice in line with the pasticcios created in Handel’s day.
This album presents the corpus of oboe concertos by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), of which unfortunately few original works have survived. The composer, however, was particularly fond of this instrument and learned to play it from his teacher, the organist Friedrich Zachow. He gave it many solos in oratorios, operas, concerti grossi and sonatas, and is reported to have said of his early works for oboe: "I used to write like the D-v [Devil] in those days, but chiefly for the oboe, which was my favourite instrument."
The Oboe Concerto in G minor is his best known, furthermore we hear two Concerto-Pasticcio’s for Oboe and Strings, a Concerto a Cinque in C minor, a Concerto in C minor and the adaptation of the Concerto grosso Op. 3 No. 3 for oboe and strings.
Excellent performances by Andrius Puskunigis and the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra, following the principals of Historically Informed Performance Practice while playing modern instruments. Puskunigis’ earlier recording of Bach Oboe Concertos (BC 94991) and Telemann received excellent reviews, praising his vitality, flexibility and “Spielfreude”.
• Recorded October 2020 in Klaipėda, Lithuania
• Booklet in English contains liner notes on the music by the conductor and Céline Scibetta-Puskunigis, along with the artists’ biographies
• Andrius Puskunigis plays an oboe selected and sponsored by Oboen-Börse, Ulm
• *world-premiere recordings