They continue to make excellent audio equipment, but for many years they have also made outstanding classical CDs. This release is another, and what a beauty! Handel’s Opus 6 set of concerti grossi is a textbook of string writing, which students have been studying for centuries. They also contain some of Handel’s most engaging music in the genre: elegant, witty, ever-so-stylish exercises for a small string ensemble. We must remember that at the beginning of the 18th century, London was bursting with musical enterprise, and Handel was very much at the centre of it.

I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to think of Handel as the Andrew Lloyd Webber of his day. His genius was almost as evident in promotion and what we would now call marketing as it was in his music itself. The great Italian Corelli was well known in cosmopolitan London, and Handel may well have modeled his Opus 6 set of concertos on his work. Handel also composed them in a feverish burst of creativity (in two months of 1739), much as he did with Messiah. This recording by the Avison Ensemble is very sympathetic, with gorgeous sound and very stylish playing. Highly recommended.