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HomeOperaHandel's 9 German Arias obtain some artistic rethinking in these splendidly participating...

Handel’s 9 German Arias obtain some artistic rethinking in these splendidly participating performances

Sweet Stillness: George Frideric Handel - Nine German Arias, Sonata in G minor, HWV 364a, Sonata in F minor, HWV 370; Mary Bevan, Davina Clarke, Tom Foster, Alexander Rolton, Sergio Bucheli; Voces8 Records

Candy Stillness: George Frideric Handel – 9 German Arias, Sonata in G minor, HWV 364a, Sonata in F minor, HWV 370; Mary Bevan, Davina Clarke, Tom Foster, Alexander Rolton, Sergio Bucheli; Voces8 Data
Reviewed 4 October 2022 (★★★★★)

Extremely satisfying musical performances deliver out the chamber interactions of those works, while by no means neglecting Brockes’ texts and all benefiting from some artistic rethinking concerning the works presentation

Handel did not set all that a lot German. He’d prevented the normal kapellmeister coaching by going off to Hamburg to play on the opera, after which heading to Italy, residence of opera. So, he largely labored in Italian, plus writing church music in Latin, at first and later in English. His main German language work is the Brockes Ardour, which can have been written at a time when Handel was contemplating his profession in England and having a German language work would have been helpful for potential employment in Germany. The Brockes Ardour was most likely written round 1716 (i.e. the 12 months after the Jacobite Rising) and was carried out in Hamburg in 1719.

A smaller, associated work is the 9 German Arias which additionally units texts by Barthold Heinrich Brockes, the writer of the fervour. The truth is, Handel and Brockes most likely met as college students in Halle. By the 1720s (some years after the fervour was written), Handel had a duplicate of the primary quantity of Brockes assortment of his poetic works, Irdisches Vergnügen in Gott (revealed in 1724) and Handel used this as a supply of the texts for 9 German Arias. That Brockes heard these settings we all know, as a result of within the introduction to the second quantity of his poetry, revealed in 1727, he mentions the arias. What we do not know is why Handel was writing them!

On this new disc from Voces8 Data, Candy Stillness, soprano Mary Bevan performs the 9 German Arias with Davina Clarke (violin), Tom Foster (harpsichord/organ), Alexander Rolton (cello) and Sergio Bucheli (theorbo), together with two of Handel’s violin sonatas, the Sonata in G minor, HWV 364a and the Sonata in F main, HWV 370.

Within the 1720s, Handel hardly had a use for a chamber cantata in German. His singers had been largely Italians or English, and his viewers anticipated music in Italian or English. In his booklet observe, Leo Duarte suggests the chance that Brockes may even have advised the settings to Handel, and certainly after listening to Handel’s settings of his texts Brockes created a brand new Spring Cantata the place eight of the 9 texts set by Handel had been integrated into a bigger construction of three linked cantatas. Whether or not this was ever set as an entire, we do not know. However the performers use Brockes’ textual content to create an order for the arias. The normal order relies on that within the surviving manuscript, and that is problematic when it comes to key relationships with arias in the identical key following one another. Through the use of Brockes’ order from the Spring Cantata the important thing relationships are made extra passable, and the interpolation of the 2 violin sonatas helps to divide the arias into cantata teams.

The violin sonatas have an analogous kind of complicated historical past because the arias; we all know them primarily from a pirate publication by John Walsh, and there are strategies that a number of the sonatas revealed by Walsh aren’t by Handel. Right here, we’re much less fearful by that and extra inclined to be glad by their musical benefit and the remarkably satisfying programme that the performers have created.

Handel: Nine German Arias - recording session at Voces8 Centre with Davina Clarke, Mary Bevan, Tom Foster, Alexander Rolton, Sergio Bucheli (Photo Voces8
Handel: 9 German Arias – recording session at Voces8 Centre with Davina Clarke, Mary Bevan, Tom Foster, Alexander Rolton, Sergio Bucheli (Photograph Voces8)

It’s price taking into consideration that that is chamber music, regardless of the language distinction there’s a lot in widespread with the Italian chamber cantatas and duets. Virtuosity is, to a sure extent, taken without any consideration and different components come into play, bringing out the best way the music expresses the textual content and the interplay between voice and the opposite devices. In a means, these aren’t not like trio sonatas with two melody devices (voice and violin) alongside a continuo group. 

The arias are recorded in three teams of three, separated by the 2 sonatas. First come Die ihr aus dunklen Grüften, Das zitternde Glänzen der spielenden Wellen, and Meine Seele hört im Sehen, the primary reasonably vivacious with a throbbing accompaniment, the second is a perky delight and the third poised, but vivid with a beautiful bounce to the accompaniment. While the phrases are severe, they’re additionally extremely expressive and I like the best way the performers don’t prohibit themselves to sober, sombre colors. There may be definitely nothing stolid about this and I like the chamber music really feel, the best way Bevan and Clarke play off one another creating a beautiful interaction. 

Subsequent comes the Sonata in G minor, which dates from across the time Handel was most likely writing the arias. Printed in 1730/31 by Walsh as a sonata for oboe, Handel’s surviving manuscript suggests the violin, although he did make alterations to permit it to be carried out on the oboe and there may be even the suggestion of a viola da gamba model. In 4 actions, sluggish, quick, sluggish, quick, Clarke begins with participating poise; she and the continuo group create some beautiful textures. By turns the next actions are vivacious, poised and perky, creating a brief but expressively participating work.

For the second group of arias we have now Süßer Blumen Ambraflocken, Flammende Rose, Zierde der Erden, and Singe Seele, Gott zum Preise, The primary incorporates a superbly poised efficiency from each Bevan and Clarke, while the lyrical second aria flows elegantly but with a powerful sense of impulse as nicely, that is music that strikes in each senses of the phrase. And the third aria brings this group to a delightfully perky conclusion.

The second instrumental interlude, Sonata in F main, comes from Walsh’s revision to his 1730/31 publication, although a recent annotation suggests the sonata shouldn’t be by Handel. Regardless of, it’s a very fantastic work certainly. Once more in 4 actions, the primary is elegantly expressive, the second reasonably vivacious, the third has the violin line down two only a thread and accompanied solely by the cello, fairly fabulous. And we finish with a energetic dance.

The ultimate group of arias is Kunft;ger Zeiten eitler Kummer, In den angenehmen Büschen and Süße Stille, sanfte Quelle, the primary profoundly lovely and extremely concentrated, creating one thing reasonably touching, the second is vigorous, with splendidly engaged performances from all, and the ultimate aria, which supplies the disc its identify, is all quiet depth with each Bevan and Clarke giving us nice great thing about line, allied nonetheless to fantastic phrases from Bevan.

It is a lovely and satisfying disc. Not solely do Bevan and Clarke have a beautiful relationship (the 2 are outdated buddies in addition to colleagues), however the entire group has a fantastic ensemble really feel. The continuo is rarely merely within the background, however an actively engaged a part of the entire. And the texts that are the arias prime motive? Nicely, they arrive over nicely, and Jonathan Rees has supplied fantastic new English prose translations of Brockes’ reasonably flowery German texts.

The result’s an expressively engaged disc that gives satisfying performances in addition to a musical construction that reaps the rewards of some superbly artistic pondering.

Candy Stillness
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) – 9 German Arias, Sonata in G minor, HWV 364a, Sonata in F minor, HWV 370
Mary Bevan (soprano)
Davina Clarke (violin)
Tom Foster (organ/harpsichord)
Alexander Rolton (cello)
Sergio Bucheli (Theorbo)
Recorded at Voces8 Centre

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