Concerto Grosso in D major, HWV 323

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Concerto Grosso, D major, No.5, Op.6, HWV 323 is included in Twelve Grand Concertos, HWV 319–330. These are 12 concerti grossi for a concertino trio of two violins and violoncello and a ripieno four-part string orchestra with harpsichord continuo. First published in London by John Walsh in 1739, in the second edition of 1741 they became known as Op. 6. Written to be played during performances of Handel's oratorios and odes, they incorporated the full range of his compositional styles, including trio sonatas, operatic arias, French overtures, Italian sinfonias, airs, fugues, themes and variations and a variety of dances. The fifth is in the key of D major and in six movements. It incorporates reworked versions of the three-movement overture to Handel's Ode for St Cecilia's Day. The minuet was added later, perhaps for balance: it is not present in the original manuscript. The first movement, in the style of a French overture with dotted rhythms and scale passages, for dramatic effect has the novel feature of being prefaced by a two bar passage for the first concertino violin. The allegro, a vigorous and high-spirited fugue, differs very little from that in the Ode, except for three additional bars at the close. The composition, divided into easily discernible sections, relies more on harmony than counterpoint.

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