Program: #10-03, Air Date: 01/11/10Handel's first oratorio and one of his earliest masterpieces (1708). We continue our long and fruitful association with our partners at Radio Netherlands in presenting a series of concerts from the 2009 Holland Festival of Early Music at Utrecht. The RNW web site provides more in-depth information about the music and performers we hear as well as more information about the festival (www.rnmusic.nl). The primary theme for 2009 was the 250th anniversary of the death of Handel and the 350th of the birth of Purcell. RNW has also prepared a short YouTube video introduction to the festival for this year: www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8gw2qGUaBw
NOTE: All of the music on these programs is performed by the ensemble La Risonanza. For more information:
Gabriele Hierdeis, soprano, Maddelena
Maria Grazia Schiavo, soprano, Angelo
Gabriella Martellacci, mezzo soprano, Cleofe
Makoto Sakurda, tenor, San Giovanni
Sergio Foresti, bass, Lucifero
Oratorio: La Resurrezione
GEORG FRIEDRICH HÄNDEL (1685-1759): Oratorio per la Resurrezione di Nostro Signor Gesù Cristo, HWV. 47 (1708)
From All Music Guide: La Resurrezione was one of Handel's earliest oratorios, and does not belong to the same genre as his later English oratorios. It was composed in Italy where the oratorio was similar in construction to the cantata, and made up of recitatives and arias which were operatic in nature. La Resurrezione premiered on Easter Day in 1708 at the palace of Marchese Ruspoli, a member of the Arcadian Academy and an avid patron of the young Handel. The cast was of the finest singers, the orchestra was large, and Ruspoli provided for three paid rehearsals and hired Arcangelo Corelli to direct. By the time that the young Handel composed La Resurrezione, he was completely at home in Italian genres and idioms, and his writing showed complete mastery of the elegant, euphonious style of melody which dominated vocal music. In addition, he had absorbed Venetian customs of orchestration, and his accompaniments were rich and varied, providing commentary on the main vocal music as well as dialogue with it.
The text for La Resurrezione was written by Carlo Capece, and is a dramatic telling of the story of Easter. The poetry is vivid, expressive, and even melodramatic at times. Lucifer is one of the main characters, and provides, in his robust bass arias and melodically imbued recitatives, almost comic contrast to the soprano Angel, the pious Marys, and the gallant tenor solos of St. John. Lucifer's text settings are especially striking: Handel pays special attention to assonance and long vowel sounds, giving the impression of Lucifer as a truly hissing serpent from hell. The chorus is used only twice, first as a chorus of angels glorifying God at the end of the first part, and then at the very end. However there are other portions of writing that become almost as full as a chorus—for instance when the full orchestra accompanies an aria or recitative, or when shared arias become full duets. The variety in textures is directly indebted to Italian operatic writing of the time, and Handel excels at it. One of the finest moments in the first part is when Mary Magdalene rejoices that the Lord is risen. Her soprano voice is accompanied by violins in unison with her melody; instrumental ritornellos intervene between sections, but the lightness of her aria prevails, as well as the mood of sanctity.
GEORG FRIEDRICH HÄNDEL (1685-1759):