The Chronicle

This album is pretty well what it implies: Handel, played on recorder.

It’s noteworthy because it features three of Australia’s leading early-music specialists (it was recorded in collaboration with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), playing instruments made to as closely resemble the ones of the time as possible, tuned as per in their day.

The major work on the album is the Music for the Royal Fireworks in a chamber version, arranged for recorder and viola da gamba with harpsichord. Also featured are four recorder sonatas.

Some people have a po-faced attitude to “classical” music (which began with Beethoven, according to a recent article in New Yorker magazine) and the sleeve notes make it clear that the famous composers, or at least their publishers, were as adept at separating the punters from their money as Simon Cowell is today. These recorder pieces are from a John Walsh edition from the 1740s of Handel’s music. It may or may not have been approved by the composer, but contained tunes with which its target audience would have been familiar.

It’s not Christmassy per se, but early music creates an atmosphere that suits the festive season. It’s a pleasant album and the pieces convey mood well.

—Jeremy Condliffe