Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 1 in G major, HWV 319
George Frideric Handel
Handel began incorporating concertos as an intermission feature in his English oratorios in 1735. His solo organ concertos featuring the composer as soloist were the first of their kind, but the concerto grosso, a concerto with more than one soloist, was well-known from the works of the Italian violinist Corelli. Twelve Grand Concertos were written within five weeks in late September and October of 1739, following on the success of a set of six, Opus 3, published the previous year. The solo group consists of two violins and cello, with the harpsichord and theorbo supplying the harmonies of the basso continuo. Handel exploits the clarity, rapidity, and homogeneous tone color of the string sections. Unlike the virtuosic riffs of solo concertos, these works display a constant interplay of textures between the solo concertino group and the orchestral tutti, from the animated homophonic harmonies of the first Allegro, to the transparency of a trio sonata in the Adagio, and fugal imitation in the penultimate Allegro.