About Handel Sonatas
Six sonatas are aimed for recorder, while the other ones are aimed for oboe, recorder flute, and violin. As it was customary at the time, the autographs did not always explicitly state for which instrument they were aimed. Yet, in many cases, it can be deduced only from the tessitura, the key, or the music’s nature. Four of them (HWV 362 in A minor, HWV 365 in C major, HWV 369 in F major, and HWV 360 in G minor) appeared in the aforementioned editions by Walsh and Chrysander. In Walsh’s edition, the Sonata HWV 367a in D minor was transposed to B minor for transverse flute (Sonata HWV 367b). The autograph of this sonata and the autograph of the Sonata HWV 377 in B flat, preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, set the grounds of Thurston Dart’s edition of 1948, titled Fitzwilliam Sonatas, which randomly redistributed the original material.
It may come as a shock that Handel chose the pure and linear timbre of the recorder to perform such a theatrical repertoire. The appearance of the recorder was often related to pastoral scenes and tended to imitate birdsong, and so it was in Handel’s vocal music most of the time. In sonatas, though, the player faces an unusual range of expressive registers, which reach their peak with the fervent Furioso of the Sonata HWV 367a in D minor. The player must make the most of their resources to make the audience experience the passions of each movement. One of these resources is liberal ornamentation, which was made popular by Handelian singers. […] (Agostino Cirillo)