|About this Recording
8.556787 - CHILL WITH HANDEL
Chill with Handel
Born in the German town of Halle in 1685, Handel studied briefly at the University of Halle before moving to Hamburg in 1703, where he served as a violinist in the opera orchestra and subsequently as harpsichordist and composer. He spent from 1706 until 1710 in Italy, where he further developed his mastery of Italian musical style. Appointed Kapellmeister to the future George I of England, he visited London, where he composed the first London opera Rinaldo in 1710 and settled there two years later. He enjoyed aristocratic and later royal patronage, and was occupied largely with the composition of Italian opera with varying financial success until the 1740s. He was successful in developing a new form, English oratorio, which combined the musical felicities of the Italian operatic style with an increased role for the chorus, relative economy of production and the satisfaction of a religious text in English, elements that appealed to the English Protestant sensibilities of the time. In London he won the greatest esteem and exercised an influence that tended to overshadow the achievements of his contemporaries and immediate successors. He died in London in 1759 and was buried in Westminster Abbey in the presence of some 3000 mourners.
Apollo e Dafne: Felicissima quest’alma (Most blest is this soul)
Apollo e Dafne was completed after Handel’s arrival in Hanover in 1710, to take up his appointment as Kapellmeister to the Elector. The instrumentation is more colourful than usual with a flute, a pair of oboes and a bassoon added to the usual strings. The plot opens with the god Apollo basking in the limelight having just released Greece from the menaces of a fearful python. He boasts that even Cupid’s archery is no match for his bow and arrow. He is soon proved wrong when he spies the lovely Dafne and is instantly smitten with her – she however very sensibly rejects him and eventually she is only able to resist his clutches by turning herself into a laurel tree. The aria Felicissima quest’alma appears near the beginning of the work, as Apollo first sees Dafne while she praises the joys of freedom.
If you enjoyed this aria, you may wish to explore the whole work:
8.555712 Apollo e Dafne
Olga Pasichnyk, Robert Pomakov, European Union Baroque Orchestra, Roy Goodman
Tracks 2, 10 & 16
The Messiah: Pifa; I know that my Redeemer liveth; He shall feed his flock
The Messiah is by far the best known of all English oratorios. Its three parts deal with the birth, passion and resurrection of Christ, using text in part derived from the Bible and from the version of the Psalm familiar from the Church of England Book of Common Prayer. The work was completed and first performed in 1742 and and at the time failed to please. This was in part because of reservations held by some about the suitability of such a sacred subject for a theatre. The work only achieved its lasting success after performances in 1750 in aid of the Foundling Hospital, an institution that continued to benefit from an annual performance of the work.
Listen to the complete work:
8.550667-68 Messiah (2 CDs)
The Scholars Baroque Ensemble
Water Music: Air
Handel’s Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks mark two chronological extremes of Handel’s career in London. The first was written in his early years in England to entertain a royal party sailing up the Thames, while the second was commissioned to celebrate the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1749. While the Thames water-party was successful enough, the Royal Fireworks, despite achieving musical distinction, were a pyrotechnic disaster. The fireworks themselves proved rather disappointing, but even worse was that during the evening the pavilion just next to the main structure caught fire!
Handel’s complete Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks are available on:
8.550109 Music for the Royal Fireworks and Water Music
Capella Istropolitana, Bohdan Warchal
Oboe Concerto No. 3: Sarabande
Handel’s Oboe Concerto No. 3 in G minor was first published in Leipzig in 1863. In four movements, the concerto opens with a slow movement of characteristically dotted rhythm, a touch of the French style that the ageing Corelli, working with Handel in Rome, had claimed to be beyond his comprehension. The second movement Allegro is followed by the Sarabande (heard here) and a final dance derived from the theme of the first movement.
More of Handel’s oboe concertos can be heard on:
8.553430 Oboe Concertos Nos. 1-3
Anthony Camden, Julia Girdwood (oboes), City of London Sinfonia, Nicholas Ward
Recorder Sonata in F Major, Op. 1, No. 11 HV369: Siciliana
Music for smaller groups of performers by Handel includes a number of trio sonatas, the majority for two violins and basso continuo, six for recorder and six for violin. The D minor Siciliana, a traditional shepherd dance, is the third movement of the Sonata in F Major.
You can hear examples of Handel’s chamber music on:
8.550700 Recorder Sonatas
László Czidra, Zsolt Harsányi, Zsuzsa Pertis, Pál Kelemen
8.550645 Trio Sonata in C minor Op. 2, No. 1
Anna and Quido Hölbling, Jozef Zsapka, Ján Slávik
Tracks 6, 8, 11 & 15
Concerto Grosso in B minor, Op. 6, No. 12: Larghetto
Concerto Grosso in A minor, Op. 6, No. 4: Largo
Concerto Grosso in A minor, Op. 6, No. 4: Larghetto affettuoso
Concerto Grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 5: Largo
In his concerti grossi Handel was using a form that had been established in the late 17th century, particularly through composers such as Corelli with whom Handel had played during his time in Rome. The set of twelve concerti grossi that form Op. 6 use, as Corelli and many of his successors had done, a small solo group of two violins and cello in contrast with the rest of the string orchestra.
Further concerti grossi by Handel can be found on:
8.553457 Concerti Grossi Op. 3, Nos 1-6
Northern Sinfonia, Bradley Creswick
8.550157 Concerti Grossi Op. 6, Nos. 4, 5 & 6 and Op. 3, No. 3
Capella Istropolitana, Josef Kopelman
8.550102 Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No.7
Capella Istropolitana, Richard Edlinger
Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verità: Duetto, Beauty and Pleasure
Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verità was first performed in 1707 and 30 years later was staged at the Royal Theatre of Covent Garden. In 1757, another 20 years later Handel again revived his oratorio, this time with an English text under the title The Triumph of Time and Truth. The four characters Beauty, Pleasure, Time and Disillusion all learn their lessons as the work progresses, but in this charming duet from the early part of the oratorio, Beauty and Pleasure point out that is it folly for the young to worry about things more fitting for the winter of life.
You can hear the whole of Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verità on:
8.554440-42 Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verità (3 CDs)
Junge Kantorei, Barockorchester Frankfurt, Joachim Carlos Martini
Tracks 9 & 17
Organ Concerto in G minor, Op. 4, No. 1: Andante
Organ Concerto in F, Op. 4, No. 4: Allegro
The six Organ Concertos Op. 4 were first performed in 1735 and 1736. The first of them, the Concerto in G minor, is scored for an orchestra of two oboes and strings. Its closing movement is the Andante heard here. The set continues with concertos in B flat and G minor and then Opus 4, No. 4 in F major, the closing movement of which is a charming Allegro. This is followed by a Larghetto, which is the opening movement of the penultimate concerto, Op. 4, No. 5.
Enjoy more Handel organ concertos on:
8.553835 Organ Concertos Op. 4, Nos. 1-6
Simon Lindley (organ), Northern Sinfonia, Bradley Creswick
8.550069 Organ Concertos Op. 4, Nos. 2, 4 & 5; Op. 7, No. 1;
No. 13 ‘The Cuckoo & the Nightingale’
Johann Aratore, Handel Festival Chamber Orchestra, John Tinge
My Heart is inditing (HWV 261): King’s Daughters
The four Coronation Anthems, written for the coronation of George II in 1727, represent music for a royal occasion at its most impressive. My Heart is inditing was the last of Handel’s Coronation Anthems to be performed and accompanied the coronation of George II’s wife, Queen Caroline. The text is taken from Psalm 45 and from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The second movement deals with the King’s daughters and is a study in Baroque femininity, graceful and coquettish.
If you enjoyed this piece, why not listen to:
8.557003 Coronation Anthems
Rebecca Ryan, Tallis Chamber Choir, Royal Academy Consort,
Overture to Atalanta: Andante
This work, although really an opera overture, could be termed a trumpet concerto. Its form – a French overture comprising a slow section in majestic dotted rhythms and a fast fugal section plus a graceful dance movement – was to become the model for English trumpet concertos written by the next generation of composers.
Athalia: Joys, in gentle trains
Athalia was written in 1733 and the first performance took place in Oxford. It was an event of some magnificence with seventy performers and novel instrumental effects. The work is Handel’s third oratorio and as with the earlier Esther, the text is a version of the play of the same name by Jean Racine by the librettist Samuel Humphreys. The strongly drawn characters, the dramatic elements of the libretto and their musical treatment are all of great importance in the development of oratorio. The work focuses on the struggle between the Jews and Athalia, who has turned away from God. This duet takes almost at the very end of the work, as Judah has triumphed over Athalia, and the devout Joad and Josabeth assure one another of their mutual affection and give themselves over to the joy of the harvest festival.
Listen to the complete work:
8.554364-65 Athalia (2 CDs)
Junge Kantorei, Barockorchester Frankfurt, Joachim Carlos Martini
Rinaldo: Lascia ch’io pianga
Handel was engaged to provide London with its first Italian opera and in 1711 Rinaldo was staged. The libretto is derived from Tasso’s poem on the Crusaders’ liberation of Jerusalem. Rinaldo’s sweetheart Almirena, who has been taken prisoner by Rinaldo’s pagan enemies, laments her fate in Lascia ch’io pianga which translates as ‘Let me Weep’.
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