Bach, Handel: Harp Concertos

Posted by i kadek Mardika on Thursday, March 15, 2012

This unusual disc offers a high degree of listening satisfaction. That much given, this isn't a recording for the Baroque purist--only one of the six concertos for harp and strings collected on this album was actually written with the harp in mind. The remaining five are transcriptions made by Spanish virtuoso harpist Nicanor Zabaleta, who performs them all with seemingly effortless technique and infectious charisma.

For most of the selections he's accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Garcia Navarro; in the case of Handel's harp concerto in B-flat major Op. 4 No. 6 (the only true harp concerto in this collection) he's partnered by Paul Kuentz and his chamber orchestra.

Bach frequently adapted the music of others to suit his own requirements and indeed, the Handel works recorded here also sometimes reveal the hand of their arranger--for example, the Organ Concerto in F (Op. 4 No. 5), which itself is a remodelling of Handel's earlier Sonata in F for recorder (Op. 1 No. 11). So in transcribing two of Handel's organ concertos plus several concertos that Bach already had borrowed from Vivaldi, Zabaleta intelligently and resourcefully expands the concerto repertoire for his own instrument.

Zabaleta's fastidious style and un-mannered musicality ensures that these readings are constantly engaging. The recordings, which mostly date from 1978 (the last work here was taped in 1966), sound a little top-heavy and some shrillness persists in these new digital transfers; but with Zabaleta's exuberant and skillful playing so vividly conveyed, it's easy to just focus on the music, and enjoy.
--Michael Jameson,

MP3 320 · 140 MB

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