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 starts out pompously with a French-style overture. It begins in the elegantly proclamatory mood characteristic of such overtures, prominently featuring long notes in dotted rhythms and quick weak-beat "leads" that jump between them. A fugue with a quite extensive and intricate subject follows, reprising the introductory material at its climax. There are no concertino passages in this movement.
The next movement, marked Lentement ("slowly") for tempo, is a melancholy Air that often features the sarabande rhythm as it progresses. The concertino steps out as a unit in the solo passages.
There follow two industrious Allegro movements, the first of which features material shared (sometimes imitatively) among the conversing groups of instruments (there are no concertino passages), and another in which the solo violins step forward as individuals in concertino excursions (that sometimes feature discreet continuo accompaniment) as part of an ardent and straightforward discourse.
The concluding Allegro moderato struts elegantly along its path, reaching the end by way of a variation with running repeated notes. There are no concertino passages in this movement.
Curated by Julian Sarmiento, Double bassist