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.
The opening Largo begins with a waltz beat over which a melody tentatively reveals itself. A half-cadence leads to the Allegro that follows, a snappy movement that begins homophonically and then proceeds over driving repeated-note accompaniments. The concertino steps out as a unit, sometimes presenting virtuosic violin figurations.
The subsequent Larghetto turns to the minor mode in a lazily expressive outing that hints at the siciliano rhythm. The cello sometimes participates melodically in concertino passages.
A concluding half-cadence leads to the following Allegro, a fleet-footed fugue with no concertino pronouncements. The fifth movement is an elegantly poised minuet (likewise featuring no concertino excursions) that begins in the minor mode and switches to the major in the second half. The concerto ends with an elegantly fleet and high-spirited gigue (marked Allegro for tempo) that the solo violins begin.
Curated by Maria Nemtsova, Pianist