Concerto Grosso No.5

George Frideric Handel

Concerto Grosso No.5 in D minor

HWV316, Op. 3/5

About this work

John Walsh's first published a version of this concerto in 1734 and included only the first two relatively tiny movements. Not until the second edition did the third through fifth movements appear, making this one of the two bulkiest concertos in the Op. 3 set and linking it to the concerto grosso form favored by Corelli; most of the other works in this collection employ the three-movement, ritornello-based format favored by Vivaldi (but not by English composers of Handel's time). Typically, Handel drew on previous works in assembling this concerto. The first two movements originated as the Sinfonia to the anthem In the Lord Put I My Trust, HWV 247, hence their initial publication in isolation, and the fourth movement is from the anthem "As Pants the Hart," HWV 251. The first movement lacks a tempo indication; it works best as a stately introduction. Short phrases of string passagework fill the gaps between widely spaced chords and are then elaborated over the course of a minute and a half. The second movement, Allegro, is the real meat here, a three-part fugue for oboes and strings. Handel's free treatment of the subject and countersubject drew particular praise as an example of the then-new form of double fugue. Next comes a poignant Adagio of shifting harmony (and silent oboes). The Allegro ma non troppo that follows is another contrapuntal movement, but less intricate than the earlier Allegro. The final Allegro, the longest movement here, is a quick bourée that plays with dynamic contrasts in three closely related sections.

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