The alternation of aggressive instrumental figures and more lyrical
utterances gives an appealingly capricious character to Harrison’s Seven Devilish Pieces. The composer recalls: “Its title, as well as its
inspiration, stem from a comic situation that occurred during my
residency in Paris. During a conversation with several colleagues, a
casual remark referring to ‘this devilish piece’ was interpreted as
‘seven devilish pieces.’ This misunderstanding sparked my imagination,
What exactly “Handel’s Celebrated Water Music” is, or was, is a question to which there are no certain answers. Royal barge progresses -in which the King, usually surrounded by ladies of material (and sometimes corporeal) substance, met the ships of visiting dignitaries, or traveled up- or down- river on holiday trips -were common in England under George I, and he delighted in having his musicians present to lend the necessary circumstance to such events.
The best documented of the water musics was heard on 17 July 1717, during a festivity described in the newspaper as follows:
Comparatively little of Handel’s instrumental music was published in any coherent fashion during his lifetime. How the dozens of movements of concerted orchestral music he left behind are supposed to fit together thus remains fairly baffling. In any case, two published sets of concerti grossi appeared during the 1730s.
The peasant Peer Gynt, a figure from Norwegian history, is as luckless as Voltaire’s Candide. Like many legendary rascals, he is a womanizer, and sinister to boot. He abandons his wife Solveig to the Norwegian forest, the better to seek out other pleasures, then returns some four decades later to find redemption in her love. Withal, Solveig has remained faithful.
Fireworks displays, like military parades, are the sort of free entertainment governments bestow on their citizenry from time to time in the hope of fostering patriotism and national contentment. The fireworks in this case had to do with a celebration in London of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, concluded the previous October to end the War of Austrian Succession (1740-48). One of the treaty provisions guaranteed George I and his heirs right of succession in England and in their German territories; that alone was cause for jubilation.
Messiah is probably the best, and certainly the most loved, of all oratorios; neither the Passions of Bach nor Haydn’s Creation have ever rivaled its popularity, though in the last century, Mendelssohn’s Elijah was for a time considered its equal.What I find most intriguing about Messiah is the text of prophecy and revelation; despite the implication of the title, there is relatively little biographical accounting of the life of Christ.Handel seens especially taken with the redemptive meaning of the Messiah to the faithful: the pro
Handel’s Concerto No. 5 in D major is sometimes known as the “St. Cecilia Concerto” because the first two movements and the last use thematic material in modified form from the overture to the Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day (1739). The introduction is in the style of Lully’s overtures and is followed by an extensive fugue. The Minuet at the end of the concerto (the three central movements are omitted in tonight’s performance) with its two variations provides an elegant conclusion.
Alexander’s Feast or The Power of Musick begins with vivid account of a banquet held to celebrate the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great in 331 or 330 BC. His beautiful mistress Thais is at his side, and the eloquent Timotheus provides entertainment by playing and singing.