Haendel's concerto en B bemol for harp was published in January 1738 when he was still alive. Written for young harpist Powell, it was originally conceived as an intermezzo for the oratorio "Alexander’s Feast". The interpretation notes for "harp or organ" are witness to the 18th century practice of considering both instruments as interchangeable.
The first part of the concerto is divided into two sections and is imbued of a lively atmosphere. Its tone is delicate, with the violins playing the melody in echo and the basses in pizzicato. The harp is here in charge of the development of the melody delivering a pleasant and well-established sonority. The larghetto in G bemol is one of the most inspired parts of this piece, bringing together a phonic theme with a sarabande's rythm. A range of bass tones, descending in sequence towards a deeper sound accompanies the tune in three tempi. An adagio follows the cadence (written by harpist-composer Grand’jani ) and concludes the movement. The cheerfulness that emanates from the entire piece owes much to the third movement, which is characterized by a few tutti, a structure close to a minuet and a joyful deportment.
While Vivaldi, Bach and Teleman wrote - each one in their own way - for the viola d'amore, Haendel seems not to have had much interest in this rare instrument. Yet, this concerto, originally written for oboe, is surprisingly attuned to this string instrument, set for this occasion in D minor. The use of strings in natural harmonics that are larger in number as a result of the quantity of strings (seven in addition to the natural resonances of seven other strings playing in sympathy when entering the bridge, which are also set in D minor) bring forward unexpected colours from this transcription. The direction provided, often from a distance, by some beautiful musical phrases throughout the piece reveal new stylistic possibilities to the viola d'amore. The instrument emerges from some tutti as much by its unusual pitch as by the beauty of a phrasing dear to Haendel in which several melodic motives in fugue are meshed together.
Music history owes much to the first generation of French players. George Friedrich Haendel (1685-1759) met them when he was a student at Halle, where the "Compagnie des hautbois" of Michael Hyntzsch enjoyed great prestige. It is for them that Haendel probably composed six sonatas for two oboes and bass. Likewise, Jean-Ernest Gaillard (who wrote several pieces for bassoon) must have encouraged Haendel to write his solo pieces for oboe (six concerti, opus 3). At the beginning of the XVIIth century he went to London, where he must have been hired by Haendel on several occasions. However, his favorite bassoon player was Jean-Frédéric Lampe, the soloist at the King’s Theatre and at the Vauxhall Gardens.
The concerto en C minor for bassoon is analogous to his concerto for oboe in G minor, HWV 827. The latter is a true concerto for a solo player, which calls determidely for the instrument's most virtuoso and expressive skills and consists of four parts: a strongly rhythmic Grave, followed an also rhythmic Allegro with decorative garlands, and a noble Sarabanda shaped in ornate improvisations. The concerto concludes with a virtuoso Allegro.
In contrast, the concerto for oboe, HWV 301 en Bi bemol Major has a more pastoral character. The beginning and poetic Adagio is followed by an Allegro with alternating tuttis and solo passages in double quavers. A Sicilienne, at the center of the concerto, allows the soloist to exhibit the singing qualities of the instrument. A short Vivace in the form of a minuet,concludes this charming concert.