Saturday, August 23, 2014

Georg Friedrich Händel – Italian Solo Cantatas

   Baroque was an era of the opulence. Music in 17th and first half of 18th centuries was the scene of many processes changing culture for good. In fact this time was so much filled with artistic accomplishments and creative talents, the baroque become synonymous with plenitude. Some composers were specializing in specific genres or forms of music, but in most cases it was natural aspiration to work on full range of musical means. The same situation was with Georg Friedrich Händel who was one of best and most comprehensive among Baroque composers. Although he is remembered mainly for his oratorios and operas or organ concertos, he was active and successive as orchestra music composer, chamber and solo instrumental and vocal works. Apart he was competent and gifted composer of any baroque form, he was absolute master of narrative forms, where lyrics were interacted with music and voices build narratives in conjunction with instrumental layers.
   Georg Friedrich Händel was composer of three cultures, he was born and learned in Germany, then studied composition in Italy and lived in England. It is really difficult to assess which culture was dominant. He was born in Halle in 1685, the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti. From his beginnings he was linked to most massive forms of baroque stage music, opera and oratorio. He was only 17 years old when according to his father’s will he started in Halle University jurisprudence studies. The same time he was working as church organist and one year later he started to work as violinist in Hamburg Oper am Gänsemarkt. Thank to contacts with Johann Mattheson and Christoph Graupner, he composed his first two operas Almira and Nero – both were staged in 1705, when Händel was only twenty. Here in Hamburg Opera he met Gian Gastone de' Medici who invited him to Florence to compose opera in Italy. Next step in composers career was work in Italy, Florence, Rome, Venice and Naples.

Ton Koopman – Händel – Italian Solo Cantatas (1978)

   During his Italian period Händel was developing his possibilities in dramatic and narrative musical forms. He was composing operas and oratorios, both religious and secular music. In short period 1706-1709 he composed hundred secular cantatas, 72 Italian cantatas for solo voice with figured bass and 28 with obbligato instruments and continuo. Cantata was form perfect for composers training because it was much easier to perform. But these cantatas had also impact on Händel’s career, for this was the one of highly valued forms when it comes to employment on the composer of the court post. In baroque music cantata was playing the same role as madrigal in 16th century and Italian composers had great achievements in the field. Earlier Händel was under influence of Giovanni Bononcini whom he met as 13 years old when he made his debut on the court of Frederick I of Prussia in Berlin. In Rome he was learning from Luigi Rossi, Giacomo Carissimi, Alessandro Stradella and particulary Alessandro Scarlatti, who composed over 600 cantatas.
   From great series of Händel’s Italian solo cantatas, four were taken for album published in 1978 in Telefunken collection Das Alte Werk. Artists were singer Marjanne Kweksilber and the ensemble Musica antique Amsterdam conducted by Ton Koopman. The choice of four cantatas comprises Pensieri notturni di Filli: Nel dolce dell’ oblio HWV 134, cantata for soprano, recorder and b.c., composed in Rome between 1707 and 1709, Un’alma innamorata HWV 173 from May-June 1707, Filio d’alte speranze HWV 113 written in Florenz in 1706 and Armida abbandonata: Dietro l’orme fugaci HWV 105, composed May-June 1707. Authors of poetry in these cantatas remain unknown. In this historically informed performance radical style of phrasing define an esthetical perspective of interpreting dramatical and lyrical fragments. Beautiful, clear soprano of Marjanne Kweksilber gives one of best performances of Händel cantatas.

No comments:

Post a Comment