Handel's Water Music (is a mess)

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Handel’s Water Music seems to be a terrible mess. I just got yet another release which doesn’t seem to fit the current sub-part scheme we have. Does anyone know if the current division is correct, and if not can we improve it?

I’ve been looking through the versions on IMSLP https://imslp.org/wiki/Water_Music,HWV_348-350(Handel,_George_Frideric) and they do not coincide with the subdivision we have. Citing IMSLP:

Extra Information The sequence of numbers, and their groupings into suites, is often inconsistent.

“There is evidence for the different arrangement found in Chrysander’s Gesellschaft edition of Handel’s works (in volume 47, published in 1886), where the movements from the “suites” in D and G were mingled and published as one work with HWV 348. This sequence derives from Samuel Arnold’s first edition of the complete score in 1788 and the manuscript copies dating from Handel’s lifetime. Chrysander’s edition also contains an earlier version of the first two movements of HWV 349 in the key of F major composed in 1715 (originally scored for two natural horns, two oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo), where in addition to the horn fanfares and orchestral responses, the original version contained an elaborate concerto-like first violin part.”
from the Wikipedia article
The division of the Water Music into three suites appears to originate with Thurston Dart in the 1950s. The first edition to publish it as such was the Eulenburg edition published in 1959, edited by Brian Priestman.

All publications after 1950 seem to be consistent between them, except that all parts that only have tempos sometimes (and especially in the edition by the Deutsche Händelgesellschaft, the German Händel society) do not have titles, probably because the titles were added afterwards. However, older editions like the 1922 edition by the German Händel Society have completely different subdivision, basically with less parts: http://hz.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/6/67/IMSLP270503-PMLP11283-Handel-WaterMusicFS.pdf . Because of that it seems to be common practice (as on this example: https://musicbrainz.org/release/79ef042b-055c-480a-9a76-2456a982e5e8 ) to mix the different suites especially, I guess, with baroque ensembles. I don’t know how to deal with this, should we create another work “Water Music (Old ordering)” and just add the already existing works in there, or just create new works?

I can try to sort it up, I already had trouble with it, however it would take a lot of time to move all existing recordings to the correct works, as on https://musicbrainz.org/work/cc81fa8a-8dcb-328b-8e15-29be3419b7a2 where its number on the various recording titles varies between 3 and 6 and the movement titles between Jig, Menuet, Allegro, Tempo di Menuetto and Passepied (non-exhaustive list) and on the scores none of these movements (as judged from the number) looks like a minuet from looking at the score (except a later movement).
It seems to be a recurring problem for some rare and complex works (although the water music is far from rare), I remember having similar problems with suites/operas of Couperin and Rameau.


I’ve just been listening to a couple of different recordings and looking at the MB data. I agree it’s a mess and, given it is such a popular work it would be nice to sort it out. It seems like different recordings use different sub-parts, so the MB listing would need to be much more “atomic” than it currently is - quite an undertaking and requiring more musical knowledge than I have. For example, the last minuet - track 18 on https://musicbrainz.org/release/80c657f2-63a8-417d-834d-387d05cfca9b seems to be the same as track 19 on https://musicbrainz.org/release/de2398f4-9678-4791-aae4-e56ae8726f4d without the middle section. The latter is linked to the work https://musicbrainz.org/work/7b92fd33-02b2-3514-8b39-f1eb7bbc6b86 which appears to have 3 sections, but these are not listed separately.
Maybe the task could be broken into chunks - sourcing a definitive list, mapping this to the existing MB structure and reviewing it against existing releases before making any changes (a bit at a time)?

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There are probably a few enthusiasts on the net who might jump at the opportunity to share their understanding of the various scores of HWM with a wider audience.

Anyone bumped into one when surfing the net?