Handel; 1917 (M. Beatrice Parker)

Handel; 1917 (M. Beatrice Parker)

By M. Beatrice Parker
The Parents’ Review, 1917, pp. 292-296

Programme Of Music, Summer Term, 1917.

George Frederick Handel, 1685—1759.

Many people who know Handel’s great Oratorios well, are little aware of the mass of compositions which he wrote in addition to these. Neither do we always remember that he was over fifty years of age when the works with which we are familiar were written. He is known as a plagiarist, but it must be recognised that he belonged to an age when it was customary and regular to adopt motives, or indeed whole airs. The remarkable point is the way in which Handel adapted and used these borrowed passages. His view of a work as a whole enabled him to see where and how pieces taken from other Masters, or from his own earlier works, could be fitted into a new frame. Thus various of his airs appear in two, three or more of his compositions. He excelled as a writer of Chorus, in which he had a very majestic, broad, direct, and simple style. Of his Operas, about forty, we hear little now; they appeared in response to the demand of his day and were frequently written in an incredibly short space of time, as were also many of his Oratorios. He wrote his Suites, Minuets, Fantasias, etc., for the Harpsichord, a hard, if rather brilliant, instrument, while Bach preferred the much softer and more expressive Clavichord. These two musical giants were born in the same year. Bach never left his own country; working in simple surroundings at his art, he brought to perfection polyphonic instrumental music, in compositions full of harmonies and thoughts which are intricate and far in advance of his day. Handel on the other hand travelled and spent several years in Italy, where he learnt much from the wonderful vocal teaching and style of the Italians. His works ever after possessed a melodious form and his vocal compositions rejoice singers by their flowing and delightful outlines.

A comparison of the lives of Handel and Bach is full of interest—the two terms’ programmes will be helpful here. Sir H. Parry’s “Studies of Great Composers” gives excellent sketches.

Forms I. and II.

Pianoforte Solos.

I. Sonatina in B flat Major(No. 2 in Handel Album, Beringer’s School of Easy Classics. Augener, 5133, 1/-).

In this dainty Sonatina a discussion is carried on between the left and right hand voices, with much repetition and imitation, and a most convincing run in descending semiquavers. Notice the cadence in F half way through.

II. Minuet in F from Sept Pièces (No. 1 in 5133).

This very dainty, yet stately, Minuet is a beautiful example of the Classical Dance, whose form underlies very many works written by later composers. It is in two-part or Binary form, which was almost exclusively used by 17th and 18th century writers. The second part is longer than the first, which consists of the eight opening bars and their repetition. Notice the sequential treatment of the melodic figure in the two first bars of the second part.

III. Courante in F(No. 5 in 5133).

This gay dance is in two sections, the second half of each section is an exact repetition of the first. The ascending passages are marked by crescendoes and express an eager brightness. The staccato work adds greatly to the freshness of the whole.

IV. Sarabande from Suite XI. in D Minor(No. 9 in 5133).

This Spanish dance forms a great contrast to the other movements of the Suite, it consists of a broad melody, supported by chords with a well-marked Bass figure, see bars two, four, eight, etc. The two variations of this dignified dance are somewhat more animated in movement, but are quite simple.

V. Gigue from Suite XI. in D Minor(No. 7 in 5133).

A bright, energetic Gigue full of rhythm follows the Sarabande. The contrasts of light and shade are noticeable features, for example piano and mezzoforte, and forte and piano are repeatedly found in the same bar.

VI. Fughetta in C(No. 1 in Handel Album. Augener, 8152, 1/-.)

This pleasant, melodious little Fugue has a subject which is three bars in length; it is answered by the alto voice and repeated in the tenor, the answers occurring again in the bass bars, and later fragments are found, but no complete working out of the Fugue, which is clear and strong in outline, takes place.

Forms III., IV., V. and VI.

Pianoforte Solos.

I. Gigue in A Major, from Suite I. (No. 8 in Handel Album. Augener, 8152, 1/-).

This is a very lively movement with a strongly marked rhythm. Notice the repetition of the opening treble subject in the alto and again in the bass. Those who worked through the Bach programme will be able to compare this Gigue with those in the French Suites, and may remember the way in which the second part of the Gigue from the Suite in G opened with an inverted subject in the bass. This is not the case here, the first half closes in the dominant, the second half begins with the subject in B Major in the treble and works back through F sharp Minor and E Major to the tonic A.

II. Suite XIV. in G(Suites Book II. Augener, 6502b, 1/8).

Out of this beautiful Suite we will take the following numbers, all of which may be had in a simplified and somewhat shortened form in Album 5133.

Allegro.—This graceful movement is in two parts, the first opening in G Major and ending in the dominant key. The second commencing in D Major returns through E Minor to the tonic G Major.

This Allegro has the melody in the right hand, and the left hand work is either accompaniment or some suitable figure. We may contrast this with the Gavotte where the theme appears in both hands. In the simplified form it occurs without the variations, which in this Suite are called Doubles. It is always interesting to remember that a Gavotte is a dance originating in the South of France.

The very clear cadence chords in the tonic, and its nearly related keys, occurring after every eight bars should be noticed.

A joyous little Air, also known as a Prelude, is the fourth number of this Suite. There is much repetition of the opening figure in the treble, throwing into relief the staccato passages and the clear chords of the left hand which define the modulations. The Courante in this Suite is Italian in its character; this we see from its time signature and from the running passages of which it consists.

III. Suite VIII. in F Minor(Suites Book I. Augener, 6502a, 1/8).

This is a delightful Suite, the Fugue, the Allemande, the Courante, and the Gigue being especially fascinating. The Fugue was not at all a necessary number of the Suite, which varied considerably, but strictly speaking contained an Allemande, a Courante, a Sarabande and Gigue. Handel adhered to the regular form more frequently in his second book of Suites than in the first. His Fugues are less strict than those of Bach, but very rhythmical and melodic. This is a typical one possessing majesty and breadth of outline, these characteristics being intensified at times by the recurrence of the theme in octaves. In this edition each entry of the theme is marked by a T.

Pianoforte Duet.

First Organ Concerto, with Orchestral Accompaniment, arranged as a Duet (Augener, 8551, 1/-).

Violin Solo.

Scherzo, from the Concerto in G Minor (Augener, 5234a, 1/-).

Vocal Music.

Part Songs.

Queen of Summer, Chorus from Theodora, for three female voices, Augener, 4155, 3d.).

Heroes when with glory burning. Song from Joshua, for three female voices (Augener, 4157, 6d.).

Solo Songs.

Those who possess the Soprano and Alto Albums (Peter’s Edition, not to be bought now) or The Golden Treasury, Soprano, Alto, Baritone Albums, etc. (Boosey & Co.), will find they include many favourite solos by Handel. The Contralto Album (Boosey & Co., 2/6) contains the happy Air, Cangio d’Aspetto; the broad, beautiful melody of the well-known Largo set to the words Ombra mai fu; and the famous plaintive Lascia ch’io pianga, one of those solos mentioned before which found a resting place in various of Handel’s works before they were given their final home.

The very fine tenor song, Where’er you walk, with others, is to be had in Select Songs, by Handel, Volume III. for tenor (Augener, 4719c,3/-). Similar Soprano and Contralto Volumes of Handel’s Songs may be had at the same price.

Sunday Music.

The Messiah” (Novello, 2/-).

Those who studied Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli, should compare the motive in the Amen, at the close of the Credo, with Handel’s Amen Chorus.

Choral Fugues in “And with His stripes we are healed,” in “He trusted in God,” and in the Amen Chorus should be observed, also the simple and lovely Pastoral Symphony, which closely resembles one by Corelli, the violinist.

Any who either know the Messiah very well, or prefer a shorter work, could take The Dettingen Te Deum (Novello, 1/-) which was written to commemorate the Battle of Dettingen, at which George II. himself led his troops.

No. 202 in Hymns Ancient and Modern, and No. 375 in Church Hymns is by Handel.

N.B.—The price of all music is now 10 per cent. dearer than that given in catalogues.

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