Thursday 23 February 2023

Handel for All: The English Concert launches its impressive and heartening plan to film Handel's entire output for free on-line viewing

The English Concert performing Handel’s Serse at St Martin-in-the-Fields (Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell)
The English Concert performing Handel’s Serse at St Martin-in-the-Fields
(Photo: Paul Marc Mitchell)
Handel's output was prodigious, nearly 70 operas and oratorios, 150 cantatas and other vocal works, not to mention all the instrumental pieces and chamber music. In total, it all adds up to over 600 (the exact count, of course, depends on how you count the various versions of pieces), and the English Concert plans to film every piece and make these recordings available via a free on-line resource. 

The project, Handel for All, launches this month with the release of Handel's Samson with Stuart Jackson in the title role [available on the English Concert website], plus Paula Murrihy, Matthew Brook & Sophie Bevan, which was recorded as part of the 2021 London Handel Festival [see my original review]. Next month comes Handel's cantata Armida Abbandonata with Mary Bevan, then in April, Saul with Iestyn Davies as David. There are lots of smaller works to come this year including Acis & Galatea with Lucy Crowe, and Apollo e Dafne with Chiara Skerath and Jonathan McGovern.

To be recorded this year for release next year are Solomon, Amadigi, Ariodante, the first batch of Chandos Anthems and more. And there is the promise to mix the works that are seldom heard along with the famous once, as well as the commitment to support the development of young talent.

The on-line portal is planned to include teaching materials too, including digital and self-led sessions for use in schools and at home, and Music Minus One – interactive digital learning materials.

This is an incredibly impressive project, and plans for this year and next are heartening, but it is very much the long hall. In the past, the English Concert has performed its Handel in concerts and including the significant annual tour which included performances in the USA. COVID rather changed this, and it looks as if, admirably, the ensemble has decided to rethink rather than going all out to go back to the mixture as before.

Handel for All will be celebrated on 28 February 2023 at Barbican Hall preceding a concert exploring Handel as a composer and philanthropist. Handel: The Philanthropist will see The English Concert, directed by Harry Bicket, and joined by Ann Hallenberg, Elena Villalón and James Way for an historically informed recreation of arguably Britain’s first benefit concert.


  1. Excellent. Presumably inspired in part by the Netherlands Bach Society who are making films of Bach's complete works available in their All of Bach project. It's at and is highly recommended.

  2. Thanks, will have to explore the Bach one too, even more music!


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