HANDEL - Concerto Grosso Op 6, nº 11 in A major HWV 329

The eleventh concerto was probably the last to be completed according to the date in the autograph manuscript. Handel chose to make this concerto an adaptation of his recently composed but still unpublished organ concerto HWV 296 in A major: in either form it has been ranked as one of the very finest of Handel's concertos, "a monument of sanity and undemonstrative sense", according to Basil Lam. The concerto grosso is more carefully worked out, with an independent viola part and modifications to accommodate the string soloists. The ad libitum sections for organ are replaced by accompanied passages for solo violin. The order of the third and fourth movements was reversed so that the long andante became the central movement in the concerto grosso. The first two movements together have the form of a French overture. In the andante larghetto, e staccato the orchestral ritornellos with their dotted rhythms alternate with the virtuoso passages for upper strings and solo first violin. The following allegro is a short four-part fugue which concludes with the fugal subject replaced by an elaborated semiquaver version of the first two bars of the original subject. In the autograph score of the first of his organ concertos Op.7 in D minor, Handel indicated that a version of this movement should be played, shared between organ and string and transposed up a semitone into B flat major. An introductory six bar largo precedes the fourth movement, a long andante in Italian concerto form which forms the centre of the concerto. The ritornello theme, of deceptive simplicity and quintessentially Handelian, alternates with virtuosic gigue-like passages for solo strings, in each reprise the ritornello subtly transformed but still recognizable. The final allegro is an ingenious instrumental version of a da capo aria, with a middle section in the relative minor key, F sharp minor. It incorporates the features of a Venetian concerto: the brilliant virtuosic episodes for solo violin alternate with the four-bar orchestral ritornello, which Handel varies on each reprise.

 VIDEO: ASMIF-Marriner 


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