Handel - Concerti Grossi, Op. 6
First published in 1739, Handel's Twelve Grand Concertos, the Concerti Grossi Op. 6 consist of 12 very fine examples of Baroque music.
The composition was a high-pressure gig for Handel. Composing a series of concerti grossi in the shadow of fellow Baroque composer, Corelli, was a hard act to follow - it's perhaps no accident that Handel's offering to the genre uses the same opus number as his predecessor, calling to mind the hugely successful concerto set from 1714.
After a disastrous 1737 season at Handel's opera company, the composer suffered a mental and physical breakdown. After retreating to Aachen, he made a full recovery, but the incident marked a change in style for the composer, where he all but abandoned Italian opera in favour of the oratorio.
Worried that audiences would not appreciate his new compositional style, Handel wrote these 12 concertos as a kind of Baroque support act, to be slotted in during performances of his oratorios to attract audiences. Ten of the concertos were written as brand new works, with two of them being reworkings of organ concertos.