The “Water Music” is one Handel’s most famous compositions from his early-London days. It is made up of three suites for a large orchestra of woodwinds, brass, and strings and contains some of Handel’s more tuneful music. As the story goes, the “Water Music” was first performed for the king as he, his entourage, and over four-dozen musicians floated on a barge down the Thames River.
The 2009 Ambroisie label re-issue by Ensemble Zefiro is a wonderful performance that deserves more attention. The recording is taken from a live performance given in London at the Lufthansa Festival in 2003. For those of you already familiar with “Water Music,” you can expect a new and energetic take on an old warhorse. Ensemble Zefiro’s program also includes Telemann’s own “Water Music” which is given a reading full of personality.
Trevor Pinnock retired not long ago from the English Concert after many years with the ensemble. Of the multitude of recordings they produced throughout his tenure, Handel’s “Water Music” is both one of their best and a classic. Their 1983 Archiv label recording was the gold standard after its release and, to this day, remains at the top of the list.