Baroque court music against the backdrop of a Renaissance palace: An open-air concert couldn't be more stylish. Le Concert Spirituel, conducted by Hervé Niquet, performs outdoor music by George Frideric Handel, including Water Music and Musick for the Royal Fireworks. The concert took place at the Festival de Chambord in 2016.

Chambord Castle, the largest and most magnificent of the Loire castles, provides the imposing backdrop for this Handel concert, performed on period instruments by the Le Concert Spirituel ensemble. The orchestral sound, dominated by brass fanfares, spreads across the expansive meadows surrounding the chateau, while spectators enjoy a picnic at dusk. 

The highlight of the evening is a fireworks display (1:03:31) that atmospherically underscores Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351. It doesn't bother anyone that the period wind instruments seem to play against the loud crash of the rockets, often sounding off-key in the treble. For friends of baroque music, this concert is a trip back in time, with the musical tradition of the courts of the period being perfectly recreated.

The Handel Concerto opens with festive fanfares by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643 - 1704), including the popular Prelude from the Te Deum, the main motif of which has been used several times in movies and made television history as one of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) theme tunes (0:06:06).

What follows are two from George Frideric Handel's (1685 – 1759) six Concerti Grossi Op. 3. The concertos were published in 1733, but their composition started as early as 1710. The Concerti Grossi Op. 3 are secular music written for various occasions. Both string instruments (as in Handel's other Concerti Grossi) and wind instruments are used – which is why they fit perfectly into this concert program.

Handel's Water Music was written for King George I of England's cruises on the Thames. It is said that the musicians had their own boat on which they played during the great procession. The date of composition of the 22 individual movements, which are divided into three suites according to their keys, is not known.

Handel's Fireworks Music, on the other hand, can be precisely dated. The five-movement orchestral suite in D major was written in 1749 for King George II of Great Britain. The occasion was the conclusion of the Peace of Aachen, which had ended the War of the Austrian Succession in October 1748. The outcome, which was favorable to the British, was celebrated in London's Greenpark in April 1749 with Handel's Musick for the Royal Fireworks. At the legendary premiere, the fireworks set the stage scenery ablaze.

George Frideric Handel
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351
(0:00:00) Overture

Marc-Antoine Charpentier
(0:01:07) Marches for Trumpets, extracts

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643 – 1704)
Te Deum in D major, H. 146
(0:06:06) Prelude

George Frideric Handel
Water Music
Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348
(0:07:34) Overture & Adagio
(0:12:10) Allegro
(0:14:38) Andante
(0:16:22) Allegro da Capo
(0:18:56) Presto
(0:21:55) Air
(0:24:27) Menuet
(0:26:15) Bourrée & Hornpipe
(0:29:15) Air

George Frideric Handel
Water Music
Suite No. 2 in D major, HWV 349
(0:32:44) Prélude
(0:34:44) Alla Hornpipe (famous motif)
(0:37:41) Menuet
(0:39:28) Lentement
(0:41:08) Bourrée

George Frideric Handel
Concerto Grosso No. 4 in F major, Op. 3, HWV 315
(0:43:50) Allegro, lentement
(0:47:46) Andante
(0:49:34) Allegro

George Frideric Handel
Concerto Grosso No. 5 in D minor, Op. 3, HWV 316
(0:51:20) Allegro

George Frideric Handel
Water Music
Suite No. 3 in G major, HWV 350
(0:54:22) Sarabande
(0:57:03) Rigaudons 1 & 2
(0:59:33) Menuets 1 & 2
(1:01:41) Gigues 1 & 2

George Frideric Handel
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351
(1:03:31) Overture
(1:11:06) Bourrée
(1:13:09) La Paix (Largo alla Siciliana)
(1:14:49) La Réjouissance (Allegro)
(1:17:00) Menuets 1 & 2

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