Friday, 7 March 2008

73. George Friedric Handel - Water Music (1717)


Title: Water Music Suites; Music for the Royal Fireworks
Performers: English Baroque Soloists
Director: John Eliot Gardiner
Year: 1991
Length: 53 minutes


This is probably one of the most famous collections of music to have show up on the list until now, that does not, however, make it one of the better. Populism does not always mean rightism. That is not to say as well that it is bad, in fact it is quite good, but it is impaired by the conditions for which it was composed.

Most of the music, possibly not all of it, was composed to be played in the open air during a trip in the Thames in a boat accompanying George I's boat. This means that the harpsichord had to be left out because of space requirements and the music had to be quite loud and brassy.

Handel clearly took a lot of inspiration from Lully who was the master of loud and brassy music. He never achieves the same levels of sheer joy of Lully however, and you can feel that he was restrained. Still the music he does write is quite inventive and supremely catchy, but you can tell that this was probably not the ideal conditions for great original composing to arise. It is flashy, but when you scrape under the surface, not that impressive.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

It premiered in the summer of 1717 (July 17, 1717) when King George I requested a concert on the River Thames. The concert was performed by 50 musicians that joined King George I on his barge. King George I was said to have loved it so much that he ordered the exhausted musicians to play the suites three times on the trip.

Handel how it was never meant to be played:

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