Although consisting of at least four distinct movements as indicated in the score, Handel’s Organ Concerto in G minor, Op. 4, No. 1, makes better sense as a piece in three movements. The extra movement occurs after the second and is only a brief eight-bar Adagio solo for the organist, who must improvise or at least highly embellish a sketchy passage provided by the composer. McVinnie has chosen to perform the entire piece as a solo, reading all the parts from the complete score.
The three main movements take on the overall form of two outer movements in triple meter and moderate tempo, the first stately, the last a light dance, and both with an artful use of hemiola. The middle, or Allegro movement in a faster duple meter ultimately displays an organist’s skill with perpetual motion with long passages of running 16th notes.
Gregg Wager is a composer and critic. He is author of Symbolism as a Compositional Method in the Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen. He has a PhD in musicology from the Free University Berlin and a JD from McGeorge School of Law.