Concerto Grosso No.2

George Frideric Handel

Concerto Grosso No.2 in F major

HWV320, Op. 6/2

About this work

This work is one of a series of twelve dashing and elegant concerti grossi in which Handel explores kaleidoscopically shifting relationships among the instruments of a string orchestra. In consonance with the traditions of concerto grosso style he exploits the contrast between a small concertino (group of solo instruments) and a larger ripieno (orchestral complement). Throughout this cycle the concertino features two violins, a cello, and a chordal continuo instrument, and the ripieno comprises larger groups of violins and violas along with a continuo usually played by cellos, string basses, and one or several chordal instruments. This concerto can be played with optional oboes that show up occasionally to double the ripieno violins.

The opening Andante larghetto proceeds in a stately glide from start to finish. The solo violins step out at several junctures, sometimes individually, sometimes as a duo, and on occasion over an attentively strolling accompaniment from the concertino's continuo. A dotted-rhythmed bridge passage works its way to a half-cadence that leads to the subsequent Allegro, a minor-mode movement absorbingly caught up in engaging courtly bustle that the concertino begins and the ripieno soon joins. The solo cello has several agressive melodic passages along the way.

The ripieno begins the subsequent Largo with a stately dotted-rhythmed figure that the two solo violins answer elegantly. This material alternates with a quicker elegant strut, and a bridge passage that ends with a half-cadence leads to the concluding Allegro, ma non troppo where the ripieno begins a fugue that proceeds at a deliberate pace and the solo violins step out several times with contrasting lyrical lines.