Friday, April 27, 2007

Just want to get a handle on that Händel

As I write this (late on the night of Saturday, April 21, 2007) I'm listening to a recording of Handel's Messiah by John Eliot Gardiner and company. I had completely forgotten that so many of the arias and choruses in it are so great. Furthermore, listening to an oratorio like this in English is quite different than listening to the Bach which I do on a constant basis. I can figure out the German (especially if I have an interlinear translation in front of me) but there's nothing like one's native tongue to make it just apparent.

I generally detest the over-use of the Hallelujah Chorus (which is to say, most uses of it) but listening to the whole oratorio, I appreciate it in the overall sweep of Messiah. Non-musicians (and inattentive musicians) reading this posting may be surprised to learn that the Hallelujah is not, in fact, the concluding movement of Messiah: that honor goes to "Worthy Is the Lamb", which, ah, is just about to begin as I type this.

My family celebrated Easter 2001 (or thereabouts) by inviting over a handful of friends for dinner and a pre-dinner sing-along. I don't remember what else we might have belted out, but I do remember being several times surprised to the point of exasperation as we sang the seemingly never-ending final chorus. I was sightreading and couldn't wait for the last of the endless page turns so we could sing our final I64-V-I cadence. But John Eliot and company do a much better job and I really have come to like it more. (Maybe it's just repetition, maybe it's them having rehearsed, and maybe it's the full orchestra with tympani, which we did not have. Though we did have a harpsichord.)

So happy third week of Easter! I think the liturgical color is still white or gold.

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