- Previously Unknown Composition -
Discovered At Royal Academy of Music
Nicholas McGegan To Conduct Premiere Performance
at the International Handel Festival Göttingen
London - Gloria in excelsis Deo, a previously unknown work by the composer George Frideric Handel, has been discovered in the library of London's Royal Academy of Music. Leading Handel authority, Professor Hans Joachim Marx of Hamburg, Germany, found the Gloria - a substantial composition for soprano and strings - bound in a collection of Handel arias. Nicholas McGegan will conduct the premiere performance at the International Handel Festival Göttingen on 3 June 2001.
Professor Marx, Acting Chairman of the Board of the Handel Society (Germany), remarked, "I was very fortunate to find this music. It is for every scholar something very special which happens maybe only once or twice in a lifetime. The music is very virtuosic, very expressive and full of effects."
Numerous leading Handel scholars in England and America have thoroughly examined the source material and acknowledged the authenticity of Handel's Gloria.
Professor Dr. John Roberts from the University of California-Berkeley observed, "I am convinced that this is an authentic new work of Handel. The density of the texture together with certain rough edges suggests to me that it dates from the very beginning of Handel's time in Italy. It is certainly a major discovery, and I would encourage you [Prof. Dr. H.J. Marx] to make it known to the world at the earliest opportunity."
Professor Michael Talbot, a specialist for Italian Baroque music from the University of Liverpool, said, "I find the work not only interesting by virtue of its late discovery, but also very significant musically. The quality of the work is so high that it will surely join the ranks of Handel's most loved music. For sopranos it will become essential repertoire."
Professor Curtis Price, Principal of the Royal Academy of Music, said "This is an exciting discovery, though slightly embarrassing that such an important piece was found under my nose! The music is fresh, exuberant and a little wild in places, but unmistakably Handel. It is fitting that the Academy, which is committed to promoting research through performance, should be giving a preview of the Gloria. We are delighted that we shall be able to exhibit this important manuscript for the first time in our new York Gate Collections, which are due to open to the public later this year."
"The Gloria is a gorgeous work, beautifully composed," said Nicholas McGegan. "I'm thrilled to be giving the first performance at Göttingen; it's a tremendous honour."
Research indicates that Handel composed the Gloria around 1707 in Rome. The work was probably commissioned by the Roman patron Francesco Maria Ruspoli for a service at his Vignanello estate. The score and performance material were originally in the possession of Handel's friend, the singer William Savage (1720-1789). Through Savage's student Robert Stevens, the work found its way in the 19th century to its present owner, the Royal Academy of Music in London.
The seven-movement Gloria will be performed for the first time in nearly three hundred years at the International Handel Festival Göttingen 2001. Nicholas McGegan, Artistic Director of the Festival, will conduct the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, with Canadian soprano Dominique Labelle as soloist. McGegan will also give the North American premiere, again with Labelle, on 17 January 2002, conducting the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra of which he is Baroque Series Director.
Professor Marx' new edition of the Gloria will be published by Bärenreiter, Kassel for their new complete Handel edition (Hallische Händel Ausgabe), which will be available for the opening of the Göttingen Festival on 30 May.
"The Göttingen Festival continues a long tradition of important premieres with the 2001 programme," commented Benedikt Poensgen, Managing Director of the Festival. "Göttingen's first season in 1920 included the first performance of a Handel opera (Rodelinda) since the composer's death in 1759, sparking the revival of interest in his stage works. This season, in addition to the Handel Gloria we will also present the premiere of the complete Vespers of St. Cecilia by Alessandro Scarlatti."
Other highlights of the Göttingen Festival 2001 include performances of Handel's opera Partenope, and his dramatic oratorio Saul with baritone Thomas Quasthoff in the title role.
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