The Concerti Grossi, Op. 6, or Twelve Grand Concertos,
HWV 319–330, are 12 concerti grossi by George Frideric
Handel for a concertino trio of two violins and
violoncello and a ripieno four-part string orchestra
with harpsichord continuo. First published by
subscription in London by John Walsh in 1739, in the
second edition of 1741 they became Handel's Opus 6.
Taking the older concerto da chiesa and concerto da
camera of Arcangelo Corelli as models, rather than the
later three-movement Venetian concerto of Antonio
Vivaldi favoured by Johann Sebastian Bach, they were
written to be played during performances of Handel's
oratorios and odes. Despite the conventional model,
Handel incorporated in the movements the full range of
his compositional styles, including trio sonatas,
operatic arias, French overtures, Italian sinfonias,
airs, fugues, themes and variations and a variety of
dances. The concertos were largely composed of new
material: they are amongst the finest examples in the
genre of baroque concerto grosso.
The tenth Grand Concerto in D minor has the form a
baroque dance suite, introduced by a French overture:
this accounts for the structure of the concerto and the
presence of only one slow movement.
The Air, lentement is a sarabande-like dance movement
of noble and monumental simplicity, its antique style
enhanced by hints of modal harmonies.
Although originally written for a small String Chamber
orchestra, I created this arrangement for Woodwind
Quartet (Oboe, English Horn, Bb Clarinet and Bassoon).