Concerto Grosso No.11

George Frideric Handel

Concerto Grosso No.11 in A major

HWV329, Op. 6/11

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 =Andante larghetto e staccato= begins with a pompously strutting dotted-rhythmed figure and later incorporates a sly chromatically rising subject that features unpredictable numbers of repeated notes and sometimes shades into rapid fingered tremolos. Some =concertino= passages feature one solo violin, some feature two, and one features a discreet appearance by the cello.

The subsequent =Allegro= is a vivacious fugue that features some virtuosic writing in one of its expositions. This movment features no =concertino= passages.

The =Largo e staccato= that comes third is a brief chromatically driven bridge passage for the =ripieno= that leads by way of a half-cadence to the subsequent =Andante=, a lyrical and elegant air in triple meter. The =concertino= steps forward with strong individual voices fear each player, either as soloists or as a unit. There is quite a bit of imitation here, and the solo cello is quite prominent melodically. There are lots of intricate triplet-driven passages that eventually shade into quadruplet figurations.

In the high=spirited =Allegro= finale the =concertino= behaves as it did in the previous movement, and there are some considerably extended virtuosic passages for one violin.