Monday, 30 May 2016

The best Handel you have never heard? Faramondo overture played by the ECO conducted by Bonynge


As music, and a performance, they don't come better than this. The slow movement starting at 4:45 is quite simply one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

This performance is from 1970 in an era when the English Chamber Orchestra were sounding more lush and lyrical than perhaps any chamber orchestra ever has done before or since; and under the baton of Richard Bonynge and Raymond Leppard they produced some LPs of Handel Overtures that are among the most treasured items in my entire collection.

(I esepcially love the way that the bass line - the basso continuo - is so prominent, so carefully phrased as a counterpoint, and so well-articulated by means of doubling the strings with bassoons. Some of the Handel's interactions between the melody and bass lines are almost heart-breakingly lovely -- for all his wonders, Bach never achieved anything like this!)

And here is Leppard (not such a gem of a piece as Faramondo, but the only one I could find on YouTube):