Shopping Cart

Neville Marriner

Handel - Marriner: The Decca Legacy (19 CD Box Set)

A unique collection of L’Oiseau-Lyre, Argo, Decca and Philips albums in original covers, showcasing both the genius of Handel and the musicianship of the classic ASMF/Marriner pairing at its most stylish.


Even while a member of the London Symphony Orchestra in the early 1950s, Neville Marriner had made recordings for L’Oiseau-Lyre as a violinist in the Jacobean Ensemble. Accordingly he took a tape of a concerto grosso to the label’s legendary owner, Louise Hanson-Dyer. The artists on it were his new ensemble, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. This modest demonstration tape ultimately led to more than 500 recordings, and the success of the Academy with Marriner as the world’s most recorded partnership.

Handel was an integral part of the Academy’s work firstly for L’Oiseau-Lyre, then for Argo, finally for the Dutch label Philips. (Marriner and the Academy also recorded music by Handel for EMI.) Without including later duplicate versions, this box compiles for the first time all the ASMF/Marriner albums made for the Decca family of labels as well as Philips between 1961 and 1997, amounting to a comprehensive survey of the composer’s orchestral music, ornamented with Acis and Galatea, Messiah, Jephtha and the Coronation Anthems.

Critics from the outset praised not just the energy of the Academy and Marriner in Handel’s Concerti grossi, but also their polish, at a time when period-instrument versions were technically unreliable. Soloists such as the oboist Roger Lord emerged naturally from an ensemble of soloists in the first place. A succession of keyboard players pays testament to the determination of Marriner to find a degree of authenticity in 18th-century music that worked practically for him and his colleagues. First of all his friend Thurston Dart, who researched the sources for much of the music played here, and the mercurial choir director and harpsichordist George Malcolm. In a later generation came Andrew Davis and Christopher Hogwood, the organist on the Argo Messiah which was recorded using his edition.

All the vocal works are cast from strength, including Elly Ameling and Philip Langridge in Messiah, Jill Gomez and Robert Tear in Acis and Galatea, and Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Emma Kirkby in Jephtha. Tear is also heard in a lesser-known 1969 album of German and English arias. From 1997, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is heard in Handel excerpts from his ‘Arie antiche’ album, testifying to the durability of a marriage between ensemble, conductor and composer which survived tumultuous artistic change.

CD 1
Music for the Royal Fireworks
Water Music: Suites Nos. 1–3

CD 2
Concerti Grossi, Op. 3

CD 3–5
Concerti Grossi, Op. 6

CD 6
Oboe Concertos; Recorder Concertos;
Berenice; Solomon (excerpts)
Roger Lord · Bernard Krainis

CD 7–9
Organ Concertos
George Malcolm

CD 10
Ballet Music – Alcina; Ariodante; Il pastor fido

CD 11–12
Ameling; Reynolds; Langridge; Howell

CD 13–14
Acis and Galatea; Arias
Gomez; Tear; Langridge; Luxon

CD 15–17
Rolfe Johnson; Keyte; Esswood; Hodgson; Marshall; Kirkby

CD 18 [Philips recordings]
Concerto Grosso, HWV 318
Overture, HWV 337/338
Concerti a due cori
The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

CD 19 [Philips recordings]
Coronation Anthems
Judas Maccabaeus (excerpts)
Messiah (choruses)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky