Jed Wentz / Musica Ad Rhenum

The Unknown Handel

Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917201529
Catnr: CC 72015
Release date: 01 January 1997
1 CD
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72015
Release date
01 January 1997

About the album

Sonata in G minor, HWV 404

The manuscript of this sonata is held in the British Library. Scored for oboe and violin or two violins, it bears the inscription "Compos'd at the Age of 14." If such is the case, it would make one of the earliest of Handel's known works. The style, which is very much that of the Corellian trio sonata, certainly points to an early work. It is cast in four brief movements. The first is a gracious, flowing Andante whose thematic material bears a strong resemblance to the trio "The Flocks Shall Come" from Acis and Galatea. The succeeding Allegro is, typically for such a work, a fugue. That is followed by an expressive Largo and the work concludes with a lively Allegro. It was published by London publisher John Walsh around 1730 as the second of Six Sonatas, Op. 2.

Concerto in G minor, HWV 287

A handful of George Frideric Handel's instrumental works have at one time or another been known as "Oboe Concertos," including -- quite erroneously -- the entire volume of Opus 3 Concerti grossi, but in fact Handel composed just three works that deserve the title. As it happened, the first of these three true oboe concertos to be composed, the charming little Oboe Concerto in G minor, HWV 287 that Handel wrote sometime around 1703 while still a young man living in Hamburg, was also the last to be published (it didn't see the light of day until 1863, over a century and a half after Handel wrote it), and as a result it is somewhat unfairly known as "No. 3."
The solo concerto genre was an almost brand-new thing in music when Handel wrote the G minor Oboe Concerto. The earliest known solo concertos, a pair of works in Giuseppe Torelli's Opus 6, were published in 1698, but there is no real need to assume that the Bolognese composer's work was particularly well-known as far north as Hamburg or that Handel was familiar with these early examples of the newborn musical species. Certainly Handel's G minor Oboe Concerto bears little formal resemblence to the early solo concertos of Torelli or Albinoni (who published four solo concertos in 1700), and in fact it seems a little old fashioned in comparison with those cutting-edge concertos. Torelli chose not to draw on the then-standard four-movement concerto grosso/sonata da chiesa form when putting together their solo works, but rather to adopt the more "modern" three-movement blueprint that we today recognize as the solo concerto norm. Handel's choice to write the HWV 287 Oboe Concerto in four movements, slow-fast-slow-fast, may well demonstrate how difficult it was for a North German musician like Handel to keep in touch with the latest Italian developments (Handel in fact moved to Italy just a few years later). On the other hand, Handel also used four-movement patterns in most of the much-later organ concertos, so it may simply be that he never thought of the one as "old" and the other as "new."
Today, however, such stylistic nitpicking seems rather unimportant. What is vital is that the G minor Oboe Concerto delivers some of the more thoroughly engaging solo music to appear anywhere in Europe during the first years of the new century; Handel's genius for rich, sonorous beauty and lean musical structures is in full bloom even at the age of eighteen or nineteen, if perhaps his ability as a melodist is not yet really developed.
The Concerto is scored for the usual Baroque orchestra of strings and basso continuo. The broad oboe tune of the first movement (an idea right in the sonata da chiesa vein), Grave, is introduced by a ritornello-like, dotted-rhythm filled passage for just orchestra that reappears twice as the movement unfolds--once to mark the move to B flat major at the movement's center, and then again to wrap things up at the very end. In the brief Allegro that follows the oboist starts things up itself, offering a firmly articulated subject that soon tumbles forth in somewhat more virtuosic fashion. The sarabande in B flat major that serves as the Concerto's third movement is warm and gentle, the final Allegro bold and extrovert, with ample opportunities for the oboist to shine.
De onbekende kant van Händel
Dit album bevat een aantal minder bekende werken van Händel, uitgevoerd door Musica Ad Rhenum onder leiding van Jed Wentz.

Het manuscript van de Sonate in G klein HWV 404 draagt de inscriptie: ‘Compos’d at the Age of 14’. Als dit klopt, is dit een van Händels eerste werken. De stijl, die erg lijkt op die van de triosonates van Corelli, geeft aan dat het om een vroege compositie gaat. Het stuk bestaat uit vier korte delen.

Händel heeft slechts drie hoboconcerten gecomponeerd. Een daarvan is het Concerto in G klein HWV 287, dat rond 1703 gecomponeerd is. In die periode leefde Händel nog in Hamburg, en was het soloconcert nog een nieuw genre. Händels werk lijkt niet op de vroege Italiaanse soloconcerten van Torelli en Albinoni. Vergeleken met hun vernieuwende concerten klinkt dat van Händel ouderwets, maar dat is niet zo belangrijk. Wat wel van belang is, is dat het hoboconcert de meest aantrekkelijke solomuziek van zijn tijd bevat. Het concert maakt duidelijk dat Händels begaafdheid voor het creëren van prachtige rijke klanken en dunne muzikale structuren al op achttien- of negentienjarige leeftijd tot volle bloei is gekomen.


Jed Wentz
Jed Wentz graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Robert Willoughby. He continued his studies with Barthold Kuijken at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, receiving a Soloist Diploma in 1985. In 1987 he joined Musica Antiqua Köln. In 1992 he founded the early music ensemble Musica ad Rhenum, a group devoted to the application of information from original sources in order to recreate the virtuosic and expressive perfomances of the 18th century. Jed Wentz communicates his musicological discoveries not only through his performances, but also in lectures and articles.
He teaches at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam.

Musica ad Rhenum
Musica ad Rhenum, founded in 1991 by a group of enthusiastic young musicians specialized in the performance of 17th- and 18th-century music on period instruments, has performed for radio, television and in concerts throughout Europe as well as in festivals in Spain, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Brazil and Argentina. The group's name - latin for Music on the Rhine - reflects the determination of its members to combine the latest musicological research and playing styles associated with the Rhenish cities Basel and Cologne with their own vision of authentic Baroque performance practice.
The ensemble's emphasis on musicological research, however, does not exclude the element of personal expression from their playing style.

As one reviewer put it: “Musica ad Rhenum is more than just a musicological experiment. The results of research express themselves in joyful and convincing performances full of swager and daring”.

In thus combining musicology and personal inspiration to achieve a moving musical experience, the musicians of Musica ad Rhenum are following the advice of the English poet Dryden, who, in his Essay on Dramatic Poesy (1684) wrote that art should be follow nature, not slavishly on foot, but rather, with unbridled imagination and fantasy, mounted on the back of winged Pegasus.


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