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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Barry Creswick and his excellent Northern Sinfonia provide a most enjoyable modern-instrument version of Op. 3. They do not include No. 4b, nor give us the revised version of No. 6, but neither do most of their competitors, and with excellent playing throughout, freshly paced and most truthfully recorded, this is excellent value.

Michael Carter
American Record Guide, December 2001

"These six concertos have always had to take a back seat to the dozen that make up Handel's Opus 6, yet the earlier Opus 3 set has its own character--including varying instrumentation from work to work--to snag, retain, and please the ear. Here, Handel proved that he had assimilated and mastered the Italian concerto style; but in the fourth concerto he incorporated elements of the so-called French overture. The collection bristles with the vigor of a young artisan, eager to display his wares, but at the same time there is a sense of the depth and breadth we find later in Opus 6.

Bradley Creswick and his colleagues offer straightforward and vital modern instrument readings of these delightful gems... If your preference is modern instruments, there is no reason to pay more than the Naxos price, especially if you're interested in a bright and jaunty interpretation that is also well recorded."

Terry Barfoot, August 2001

"Although it has taken six years from the date of recording to issue these performances on CD, they sound remarkably fresh, with the talents of the excellent Northern Sinfonia captured in good, atmospheric sound.

"Handel's Opus 3 set of six concertos differ from the twelve grand concertos of Opus 6 in one crucial respect. Whereas the latter was planned and composed to form a collection, the former was gathered together by John Walsh, the composer's publisher. In that sense they are a motley collection rather than a coherent whole, but they are effective enough individually. The ensembles feature oboes with strings, and, in fact, for many years the tradition in England was to refer to them as oboe concertos. However, since the solo roles are sometimes fitful, the present titles, with a clear designation by opus number, are probably more appropriate.

"These are stylish performances, and Bradley Creswick has achieved a most natural balance between winds and strings...the sound is rich and appealing, and there is a natural and highly effective dynamic range.

"Creswick's choice of tempi always feel right, striking a good balance between activity and articulation in the faster music, while allowing the expression of the slower music to be felt. These /maters are particularly tested in the multi-movement Concerto no. 2, in which there is a real sense of unity from a sequence of diverse movements.

"That Naxos stalwart Keith Anderson provides accompanying notes which are detailed, readable and well-judged. This, then, is another appealing bargain from the remarkable Naxos catalogue."

David Vernier, June 2001

"Handel's six Op. 3 concertos never have suffered from overexposure in the CD catalog, and indeed the considerably greater attention given the later Op. 6 masterpieces is understandable and justified. Except for the concerto No. 4 in F, these are rather ordinary examples of Handel's facility as a technician and melodist, showing moments of brilliance among the merely sub-genius passages. Don't get me wrong; this isn't second rate music, but merely less than first rate Handel. Unlike the later works in the genre, most of these give a dominant solo role to the oboe (or oboes) and, not unusual for Handel, sometimes recycle material used elsewhere. The concerto No. 4 is the one work in this group that really stands out--far out--from the others, right from the French-overture opening. Here we get a taste not just of the work of a technically accomplished master but of a composer at the peak of his craft, from the originality of ideas to the tautness of structure and the natural flow from one thematic scheme to the next. In all of this England's Northern Sinfonia proves fully engaged stylistically... It's certainly pleasant listening--and you can't go wrong for the price--and the performances stand up to most of the others in the short list of worthy competitors... The disc's sound--clear, detailed, open, resonant, well balanced--is a real asset and helps confirm this recording as a good choice for a basic library."

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