music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
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Seen & Heard
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Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759)
Trio Sonata in B flat major, Op. 2 no. 3, HWV
Pensieri notturni di Filli, HWV 143 [7.05]
Trio Sonata in G minor, Op. 2 no. 5, HWV 390a
Agrippina condotaa a morire, HWV 110 [24.22]
Trio Sonata in C minor, HWV 386a [10.33]
Koslowsky (soprano); Musica Alta Ripa (Danya Segal (recorder);
Anne Rohrig (violin); Ursula Bundies (violin);
Guido Larisch (cello); Bernward Lohr (harpsichord))
rec. October 1990, Stephansstift, Hannover
UND GRIMM MDG3090399-2 [63.03]
disc was warmly welcomed by critics back in 1998 and over
a decade later, the disc remains fresh and lively. The
young group of instrumentalists, Musica Alta Ripa mix
Handel Trio Sonatas from his Op. 2, with a pair of soprano
cantatas, including the substantial Agrippina condotta
of the joy of listening to Handel’s Trio Sonatas is to
re-discover other elements of his music which he re-used
in these pieces. The sonatas appear to have been written
as a matter of creative choice, rather than being written
specifically for publication. The three Trio Sonatas on
this disc all date from around 1718 when Handel had been
in London for a few years. The Trio Sonatas in B flat major
and G minor were published in 1730 as numbers 3 and 5 of
Handel’s Op. 2. The Trio Sonata in C minor was transposed
down to B minor for publication, probably so that the work
could be played on the transverse flute.
vast majority of Handel’s cantatas were written during
the period that he was in Italy. Most were written for
private events in the homes (or palaces) of his patrons
such as Prince Ruspoli and Cardinals Colonna, Pamphili
and Ottoboni. Much of our knowledge of the dating of these
pieces comes from examination of the paper on which they
are written in conjunction with the bills from the copyists
employed by the various patrons.
cantatas on this disc seem to have been written in Rome
in or around 1708. Pensieri notturni di Filli is
a pastoral cantata which deals with the sleeping Phyllis,
who dies out of love and is turned into an almond tree.
Handel’s use of a solo recorder is typical of the pastoral
setting. Agrippina by contrast is a far more substantial
work, consisting of a sequence of arias and recitative.
The cantata takes as its subject Agrippina, the mother
of Empress Nero, being led to her death on Nero’s orders.
The anonymous librettist shows Agrippina being torn between
the two extremes of hate and love for her wayward son.
can imagine these cantatas being performed, to a select
audience, with Handel at the keyboard accompanying one
of the choice vocalists of the day along with a instrumentalists
in the patron’s employ. The vocalists need not have been
female. Though Handel performed in Rome with Margherita
Durastantini, with whom he would forge a long and fruitful
partnership, Agrippina seems to have been premiered
by the castrato Pasqualino Tiepoli.
Alta Ripa’s performances are crisp, lively and fresh. They
succeed in giving this delightful music a new-minted feel
and make us appreciate Handel’s genius afresh. They seem
to have natural feeling for Handel’s melodic lines and
musical structures, and display fine musicality along with
immense charm. All in all, they are captivating.
Johanna Koslowsky makes an apt partner. She brings charm
to pastoral cantata Pensieri notturni, but
in Agrippina she gives due weight to its greater
dramatic structure. In these cantatas, Handel experimented
with techniques which he would carry over into his mature
operas; in fact much of the material of his Italian cantatas
found its way into the operas. Though this performance
is on a relatively small scale, Koslowsky and her partners
make us realise that Agrippina is an operatic scena
in all but name.
are elements to Koslowsky’s voice which are not perfect.
At times she has a slightly hollow tone and sometimes there
is an edgy quality to her performance. But overall she
is well matched to her accompanists and this performance
is highly recommendable.
CD booklet contains an article on the music, by Bernward
Lohr - the harpsichordist of the group - plus full texts
disc brings out the freshness Handel’s invention in performances
of real charm. It will appeal even to those who don’t think
they’d like a disc of Handel trio sonatas and chamber cantatas.
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