Concerto Grosso No.5

George Frideric Handel

Concerto Grosso No.5 in D major

HWV323, Op. 6/5

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, mostly to double the ripieno violins.

The first concertino violinist opens the beginning Larghetto e staccato with a brief, proclamatory, and improvisatory unaccompanied solo. The ripieno struts elegantly through the main body of the movement, an outing that highlights showy dotted-rhythmed figures.

Alternation between concertino and ripieno is often quick in the two movements that follow. The Allegro that comes second is a bustling fugue in which the solo violins step out over discreet concertino continuo accompaniments, and the subsequent Presto is a rushing and almost skittish triple-time movement in which the concertino violins step out individually over light punctuations from the ripieno.

The Largo that follows is relaxed and elegant with concertino passages that feature individual violin lines and in some cases a discrete continuo accompaniment, and the

subsequent Allegro struts and scurries elegantly, featuring some energetic repeated note figures in a movement with no concertino passages at all.

The concluding Un poco larghetto is an elegant minuet with two variations, the first of which features a steadily moving bass line under the original melody, and the second of which features an elegantly poised variation on the melody over an attentively punctuating accompaniment. There are no concertino passages in this movement.