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Handel's Water Music
filmed on the River Thames

English Concert/Andrew Manze

BBC/Opus Arte: DVD OA0930D

[16:9 TT 78 mins]

Based upon research of historical and acoustic evidence, this recreation of King George I's Royal Barge is a documentary which wears its considerable learning lightly, with an ebullient Andrew Manze generating an atmosphere of adventure and making it all fun for everyone involved.

You'll learn a great deal, how the banks of the Thames have altered in three hundred years, which instruments would have been audible on the river before motor traffic and aeroplanes; horns best, double basses nearly disappear. how to adapt a more-or-less look-alike vessel (the real ones all rotted long since) into a plausible imitation of a royal barge. You can process with the Water Music along the Thames as it is now, and along contemporary realisations of how it would have looked, with multi-angle choice features amongst the goodies on offer. You share the players' anxiety whether their wigs will be blown off by wind or knocke off into the water by accidental over-enthusiastic bowing.

It all culminates with the historic pageant's second-ever performance on the river, against the backdrop of the present-day Thames from Whitehall to Chelsea. The actual performance of the Water Music is a high class period instrument version, close-miked to give sound quality we've become used to.

It is all presented in style, informative all the way without ever being patronising in TV style, and it will give pleasurable learning to young and old of various degrees of sophistication. Fully illustrated booklet helps to make this a DVD which deserves success.


© Peter Grahame Woolf