Concerto Grosso No.12

George Frideric Handel

Concerto Grosso No.12 in B minor

HWV330, Op. 6/12

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 begins arrestingly with a Largo that prominently features dotted-rhythmed figures. The members of the concertino step forward sometimes as a group and sometimes as individuals. A contrasting lyrical idea leads by way of a half-cadence to the next movement, a fleet-footed Allegro that moves along over an exhilarating repeated-note accompaniment with mercurially quick intercutting of concertino and ripieno scoring and violin passages that are often virtuosic.

The third movement presents a lyrical and dignified Aria (marked Larghetto e piano) over an active homophonic accompaniment. There follows a variation whose sections feature flowing figurations in the bass line and alternately in the melody line. There are no concertino passages in this movement.

The subsequent largo Largo is a sequential bridge passage for the concertino whose concluding half-cadence leads to the concluding Allegro, a finale that skips merrily along with the feel of a gigue, often indulging in imitative interaction as it goes. There are no concertino passages in this movement.