Georg Friedrich Händel & Bach
Continue from Part 1
Works of G.F. Handel performed by J.S. Bach [Handel-L]
Aryeh Oron wrote (December 24, 2008):
My name is Aryeh Oron and I am somewhat alien to this group since I manage the Bach Cantatas Website and the Bach Mailing Lists.
Bach Cantatas Website: http://www.bach-cantatas.com
The Bach Cantatas Website (BCW) is a comprehensive site covering all aspects of J.S. Bach's cantatas and his other vocal works. The BCW contains discussions and detailed discographies of each cantata and other vocal works, performers and general topics. The BCW also contains texts and translations, scores, music examples, articles and interviews, and over 5,500 short biographies of performers of Bach's vocal works and players of his keyboard and lute works, as well as of poets & composers associated with Bach. There are also other relevant resources such as the Lutheran church year, database of chorale texts & melodies and their authors, detailed discographies of many Bach's instrumental works and piano transcriptions and their performers, reviews and discussions of Bach's instrumental works, books and movies on Bach, terms and abbreviations, schedule of concerts of Bach's vocal works, guide to Bach tour, Bach in arts & memorabilia, thousands of links to other relevant resources. The BCW is an international collective project, being compiled from various postings about the subject, most of which have been sent to the Bach Mailing Lists.
I have recently added a new section to the BCW, called "Bach & Other Composers":
The aim of this section is to present all works of other composers associated with J.S. Bach. Among other things this section includes works of other composers performed by J.S. Bach. For each such work the section contains a comprehensive discography.
I have found that J.S. Bach performed at least three works of his great contemporary G.P. Handel:
Cantata Armida Abbandonata, HWV 105 (1707) - performed by J.S. Bach & Collegium Musicum in Leipzig c1731
Opera Alcina, HWV 34 (1735): arias: Mi lusinga il dolce affetto and Di, cor mio, quanto t'amai - performed by J.S. Bach & Collegium Musicum in Leipzig c1735
Brockes Passion, HWV 48 (Text: Barthold Heinrich Brockes), prepared for performance & performed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig:
- 1st performance on Good Friday c1746-1747
- 2nd performance on Good Friday August 1748 - October 1749
Pasticcio Passion, based on Markus-Passion by Friedrich Nicolaus Brauns [previously attributed to Reinhard Keiser] with insertion of 7 arias from Brockes Passion, HWV 48 by G.F. Händel - prepared for performance & performed by J.S. Bach at Thomaskirche in Leipzig on Good Friday April 31, 1747 or April 12, 1748
Discographies of these works can be found at:
Armida Abbandobnata: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Handel-Armida-Abbandonata.htm
Brockes Passion: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Handel-Brockes-Passion.htm
I have a few questions to the members of Handel-L:
a. Are these all the works of G.F. Handel performed by J.S. Bach?
b. Are there any works of J.S. Bach performed by G.F. Handel?
c. If you find any mistake/omission in the discography pages, please inform me.
David wrote (December 26, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] I knew about the Armida abbandonata and Brockes Passion links with Bach, but have never before heard that he performed two arias from Alcina with the Leipzzig Collegium. Though it isn't impossible, it strikes me as being rather implausible - what's the evidence for this, please? I'm very curious to know if there is any substance to this idea. Is c.1735 really a plausible (approximate) date for these arias to have already reached Leipzig? I'd love to know exact chapter and verse on this, please.
There's no evidence that Handel ever played or studied J.S. Bach's music. He certainly knew and borrowed from their mutual friend Telemann, but I'd speculate that Handel's utter lack of musical borrowings from Bach suggest that Handel wasn't aware or interested much in the Leipzig Kantor's works. I'm tempted to imagine that whatever Handel knew of Bach was based on their earliest years, from before Handel went to Italy in 1706, and was probably confined to word of mouth regarding reputation and character rather than musical.
It would be lovely if somebody could uncover some more tangible evidence of a connection.
Aryeh Oron wrote (December 31, 2008):
"I knew about the Armida abbandonata and Brockes Passion links with Bach, but have never before heard that he performed two arias from Alcina with the Leipzzig Collegium. Though it isn't impossible, it strikes me as being rather implausible - what's the evidence for this, please? I'm very curious to know if there is any substance to this idea. Is c.1735 really a plausible (approximate) date for these arias to have already reached Leipzig? I'd love to know exact chapter and verse on this, please."
Thanks for your response.
The info was provided to me by Thomas Braatz and the source is an article by George Stauffer, "Music for Cavaliers et Dames": Bach and the repertory of his Collegium Musicum," in the new "About Bach," festschrift for Christoph Wolff; eds. Stauffer, Gregory Butler, and Mary Dalton (Univ. of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 2008; pp. 135-156). Essentially, he looks at the manuscripts found in the Breitkopf catalogue as part of the 1761 estate of Carl Gotthelf Gerlach, dating parts to the 1730s, including some in Bach's autograph. to the previous list of orchestral music and Italian soprano cantatas are added various instrumental works of Steffani, Benda, Locatelli, W.F.B., C.P.E.B., Heinichen, Telemann and J.G. Graun as well vocal works of Porpora (three more S. cantatas), A. Scarlatti, and Handel Cantata "Dica il faso" and three arias (two from "Alcina").
Steffen Voss wrote (January 18, 2009):
The two Alcina arias were known in Leipzig, as they where sold as manuscript copies at the music publisher Breitkopf. Much later, in 1765, exactly these two pieces are announced togehter with an aria from Agrippina (Col ardor del tuo bel core, HWV 6, Nr. 42) in the Breitkopf manuscript catalogue (where you can find also Armida abbandonata and some other arias and cantatas).
For a detailled list of Handel works known in Leipzig in the 18th century look for the following article: Hans Joachim Marx / Steffen Voss, Die Händel zugeschriebenen Kompositionen in den thematischen Katalogen von Breitkopf, in: Göttinger Händel-Beiträge 9 (2002), p.149-160.
John Briggs wrote (January 18, 2009):
[To Steffen] I'm sorry,but now that we have the answer, could someone remind me what the question was?
David wrote (January 19, 2009):
[To Steffen Voss] Hi Steffen - nice to hear from you!
Thanks for this additional information; I've got all the GHB, so I'll have a look at this.
I don't suppose that the inclusion of this music in Breitkopf manuscripts guarantees that Bach performed them, or gives us a date about when, but it certainly raises some fascinating speculation!
Meidad Zaharia wrote (January 4, 2009):
I have a question about Bach's contemporary geneius Handel.
There is a hugh list of Cantatas that Handel wrote but I never saw these on CD's, anyone have an idea why?
What these cantatas sounds like? Are they sang in English? German?
If they are availble can you please give me a ref. to a box set or something like that?
The cantatas list:
HWV / Title / Composed / Premiere / Notes / Text
77 Ah che pur troppo è vero Florence, ca. 1707
78 Ah! crudel, nel pianto mio Rome, August 1708 2 September, 1708, Palazzo Bonelli, Rome
79 Diana cacciatrice or Alla caccia Rome, May 1707 May-June 1707, Vignanello Copied for Ruspoli, 1707
80 Allor ch'io dissi: Addio Rome, 1707-9
81 Alpestre monte Florence, circa 1707
82 Amarilli vezzosa or Daliso ed Amarilli or Il duello amoroso Rome, August 1708 Probably October 28, 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708
83 Aminta e Fillide or Arresta il passo Early 1708 Rome, 14 July, 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708. The section, "Chi ben ama" printed separately in HG 52b
84 Aure soavi, e lieti Rome, May 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1708, 1709
85 Venus and Adonis or Behold where weeping Venus stands London, circa 1711 No autograph - authenticity uncertain
86 Bella ma ritrosetta London, circa 1717-18
87 Carco sempre di gloria London, 1737 16 March, 1737, between parts of "Alexander's Feast" (75), London Variant insertion in "Cecilia, volgi un sguardo" (89), for performances of "Alexander's Feast" (75), 1737, including music for the castrato Annibali
88 Care selve, aure grate Rome, 1707/8
89 Cecilia, volgi un sguardo London, January 1736 19 or 25 (?) February 1736, London, Covent Garden Theatre. Played between the two parts of Alexander's Feast (75).
90 Chi rapì la pace al core Florence, circa 170607 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
91a Clori, degli occhi miei Florence, late 1707
91b Clori, degli occhi miei London, after 1710
92 Clori, mia bella Clori Rome, 170708
93 Clori, ove sei? Italy, 170708
94 Clori, si, ch'io t'adoro No autograph, earliest source circa 173840
95 Clori, vezzosa Clori Rome, July/August 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708
96 Clori, Tirsi e Fileno or Cor fedele in vano speri Rome, July/September 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 14 October 1707.
97 Crudel tiranno Amor London, June 1721 Probably performed 5 July 1721, London, King's Theatre, Haymarket. Performed at the benefit concert for Margherita Durastanti.
98 Cuopre tal volta il cielo Italy, 1708
99 Il delirio amoroso or Da quel giorno fatale Rome, on or before 14 January 1707. At Cardinal Pamphili's palato in May 1707.
100 Da sete ardente afflitto Italy, 170809 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709. (101a & 101b: Dal fatale momento. Spurious, by F. Mancini).
102a Dalla guerra amorosa Italy, 170809 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
102b Dalla guerra amorosa Italy, 170809 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
103 Deh! lasciate e vita e volo London, circa 172225 Libretto text by Paolo Antonio Rolli
104 Del bel idolo mio Rome, 170809 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
105 Armida abbandonata or Dietro l'orme fuggaci Rome, June 1707 Possibly 26 June 1707, Palazzo Bonelli, Rome Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1709.
106 Dimmi, o mio cor Italy, 170709 See 132 note.
107 Ditemi, o piante Rome, July/August 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708
108 Dolce mio ben, s'io taccio No autograph. No source attributed to Handel.
109a Dolc' è pur d'amor l'affanno London, circa 171718 Libretto ?Text by Paolo Antonio Rolli
109b Dolc' è pur d'amor l'affanno London, ?after 1718 Libretto: ?Text by Paolo Antonio Rolli
110 Agrippina condotta a morire or Dunque sarà pur vero Italy, 1707-8 Early in 1708 First performed by the castrato soprano, Pasqualino Tiepoli Libretto: Anonymous
111a E partirai, mia vita? Italy, 170709
111b E partirai, mia vita? London, circa 172528
112 Figli del mesto cor Probably Italy, 170709 No autograph or Italian-period copies
113 Figlio d'alte speranze Florence, 170607
114 Filli adorata e cara Rome, 170708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
115 Fra pensieri quel pensiero Italy, 170708
116 Fra tante pene Florence, 170607 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
117 Hendel, non può mia musa July/August, 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708, 1709 Libretto by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili
118 Ho fuggito Amore anch'io London, circa 172223 Printed without final aria in HG. Libretto by Paolo Antonio Rolli
119 Echeggiate, festeggiate, numi eterni or Io languisco fra le gioie London, circa 171012 Partly lost. Fragments printed in wrong order in HG.
120a Irene, idolo mio Italy, 170709 No autographs or Italian-period copies.
120b Irene, idolo mio England, after 1710 No autographs or Italian-period copies.
121a La Solitudine or L'aure grate, il fresco rio London, circa 172223 fragment
121b La Solitudine or L'aure grate, il fresco rio London, before 1718
122 Apollo e Dafne or La terra è liberata Probably begun Venice, 1709. Completed Hanover, 1710
123 Languia di bocca lusinghiera Possibly composed in Hanover, 1710 ?fragment
124 Look down, harmonious saint circa 1736 February 1736 London, Covent Garden Theatre Recitative and aria; probably a discarded fragment for "Alexander's Feast" (75), 1736. It appeared in the cantata HWV 89 Libretto by Newburgh Hamilton, from Cecilian Ode 1720.
125a Lungi da me, pensier tiranno Italy, 170709 No autographs or Italian-period copies. One version copied for Ruspoli, 1708.
125b Lungi da me, pensier tiranno London, after 1710 No autographs or Italian-period copies. One version copied for Ruspoli,1708.
126a Lungi da voi, che siete poli Rome, July/August 1708
126b Lungi da voi, che siete poli Rome, 1708
126c Lungi da voi, che siete poli Probably London, after 1710.
127a Lungi dal mio bel nume Completed score Rome, 3 March 1708
127b Lungi dal mio bel nume ?London, after 1710
127c Lungi dal mio bel nume London, circa 172528
128 Lungi n'andò Fileno Rome, August 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708
129 Manca pur quanto sai Rome, July/August 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708
130 Mentre il tutto è in furore Rome, August 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708
131 Menzognere speranze Rome, September 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707
132a Mi palpita il cor ?London, after 1710 Borrowings: Version of "Dimmi, o mio cor" (106) with new opening.
132b Mi palpita il cor ?London, after 1718
132c Mi palpita il cor ?London, after 1710
132d Mi palpita il cor ?London, circa 171112
133 Ne' tuoi lumi, o bella Clori Rome, September 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1709
134 Pensieri notturni di Filli or Nel dolce dell'oblio Rome, 170708. Completed score 1709
135a Nel dolce tempo Probably Naples, June/July 1708
135b Nel dolce tempo London, after 1710 No autographs, and no early Italian-period copies.
136a Nell' Africane selve Naples, June/July 1708
136b Nell' Africane selve London, after 1710
137 Nella stagion che di viole e rose Rome, April/May 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1709. Probably composed for the soprano, Margherita Durastanti.
138 Nice, che fa? che pensa? ?Hanover, 1710
139a Ninfe e pastori Rome, 170709 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
139b Ninfe e pastori Probably London, after 1710
139c Ninfe e pastori London, circa 172528
140 Nò se emenderá jamás Rome, September 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707
141 Non sospirar, non piangere Florence, Fall 1707
142 Notte placida e cheta Rome, 170708 Libretto anonymous
143 Olinto pastore, Tebro fiume, Gloria or O come chiare e belle Rome, August/September 1708 9 September, 1708 at the Marquis Ruspoli's Palazzo Bonelli ?Copied for Ruspoli, 1708. First performed by the soprano Anna Marie di Piedz
144 O luceniti, o sereni occhi Rome, 170709
145 La Lucrezia or Oh numi eterni August, 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709. Probably composed for the sopra, Margherita Durastanti. Libretto by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili
146 Occhi miei che faceste? Rome, 170708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
147 Partì, l'idolo mio London, after 1710 No autograph or eary Italian copies.
148 Poichè giuraro amore Rome, early 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1709
149 Qual sento io non conosciuto Only source circa 173840
150 Ero e Leandro or Qual ti riveggio, oh Dio Rome, 1707 Derived from the story of Hero and Leander Libretto ?Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni.
151 Qualor crudele, sì ma vaga Dori London, after 1710 No autograph or early Italian-period copies
152 Qualor l'egre pupille Rome, September 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707
153 Quando sperasti, o core Probably Naples, June/July 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708
154 Quel fior che all'alba ride London, circa 173840 Published in Handel (ed. Burrows), "Songs and Cantatas for Soprano."
155 Sans y penser Rome, September 1707 Composed in Italy. Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1709.
156 Sarai contenta un di Florence, 170607
157 Sarei troppo felice Rome, September 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1708 (incomplete) Libretto by B. Pamphili.
158a Se pari è la tua fè Rome, 1708 Copied for Ruspoli, 1708, 1709.
158b Se pari è la tua fè Probably London, after 1710
158c Se pari è la tua fè London, circa 172528
159 Se per fatal destino Rome, early 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1709
160a La bianca rosa or Sei pur bella, pur vezzosa Rome, early 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1709
160b La bianca rosa or Sei pur bella, pur vezzosa London, circa 172528
160c La bianca rosa or Sei pur bella, pur vezzosa London, circa 1738-41
161a Sento là che ristretto Rome, 170809
161b Sento là che ristretto
161c Sento là che ristretto London, circa 172528
162 Siete rose ruggiadose (with variant), London, circa 1711-12.
163 Solitudini care, amata libertà London, after 1710 No autographs or early Italian-period copies
164a Il Gelsomino or Son Gelsomino London, circa 172528
164b Il Gelsomino or Son Gelsomino London, circa 1717-18
165 Spande ancor a mio dispetto Italy, 170708
166 Splenda l'alba in oriente London, circa 1711-12 Survives only in fragmentary form.
167a Stanco di più soffrire Italy, 170708
167b Stanco di più soffrire Rome, July/August 1708
168 Partenza di G. B. or Stelle, perfide stelle Rome, 1707
169 Torna il core al suo diletto Probably Rome, 170708
170 Il consiglio or Tra le fiamme Rome, 170708 (possibly spring 1708 for the eminent German gambist Ernst Christian Hesse) Libretto by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili
171 Tu fedel? Tu costante? Florence/Rome, 170607 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707, 1708
172 Udite il mio consiglio Florence, 1706-7 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707
173 Un' alma innamorata Rome, May 1707 Probably Vignanello, June 1707 Copied for Ruspoli, 1707
174 Un sospir a chi si muore Florence, Fall 1707
175 Vedendo Amor Rome, 170708
176 Amore uccellatore or Venne voglia ad Amore Rome, 170708
177 Zeffiretto, arresta il volo Italy, 170709 ?Copied for Ruspoli, 1709
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (January 5, 2009):
Meidad Zaharia wrote:
< I have a question about Bach's contemporary geneius Handel.
There is a hugh list of Cantatas that Handel wrote but I never saw these on CD's, anyone have an idea why? What these cantatas sounds like? Are they sang in English? German?
If they are availble can you please give me a ref. to a box set or something like that? >
You would do best by joining the Handel list: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/handel-l/
The huge list that you gave seem all to be in Italian. I am no Handel specialist but I very much doubt that many of these have ever been recorded; rather only a few.
James Atkins Pritchard wrote (January 5, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] I too have at times wondered why so many of Handel's cantatas remain unrecorded. But some have been (and others are expected to be recorded soon):
These are a few places to start. You might also want to take a look at this book:
I also concur with the suggestion that you think about joining the Handel list.
Meidad Zaharia wrote (January 5, 2009):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] Thank you very much guys!
It really helped me to have a picture about the recordings but the dought is still there, why weren't these recorded till now :-)
Aryeh Oron wrote (January 5, 2009):
[To Meidad Zaharia] All the recordings of Handel's Italian Cantata Armida abbandonata (1707), which J.S. Bach performed with his Collegium Musicum in Leipzig c1730, are listed at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Handel-Armida-Abbandonata.htm
If Bach performed more Handel cantatas, I would have prepared discographies of them as well (:-
BTW, this one is a charming beautiful work.
Choral forces in Handel
Douglas Cowling wrote (December 11, 2009):
Neil Halliday wrote:
Uri Golomb wrote:
< This interesting article about Telemann's practices has me wondering about Handel. What was the size of Handel's opera chorus, for instance. How many original parts survive for "Unto us a child is born"?
A 1754 'Messiah" records 6 trebles and 13 men (presumably 4 altos, 4 tenors and 5 basses) drawn from the Chapel Royal.
Cathedral and collegiate choirs always sang in double choir formation, so the "decani" and "cantoris" choirs were probably divided Choir 1: 3-2-2-3 and Choir 2: 3-2-2-3 (a bass must have been sick). Modern English cathedral choirs still maintain roughly that voice allocation although the number of boys has risen to 16 (8 in each choir), That reflects a 19th century taste for a dominant soprano line.
In addition, Handel's soloists always sang with the choir.
Although there is no connection whatsover with Bach, this is the number and disposition of voices that I think would be ideal for his choral works.
Neil Halliday wrote (December 12, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>A 1754 'Messiah" records 6 trebles and 13 men (presumably 4 altos, 4 tenors and 5 basses) drawn from the Chapel Royal.<
Now: that's a choir! Thanks for the details.
Ed Myskowski wrote (December 12, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<< A 1754 'Messiah" records 6 trebles and 13 men (presumably 4 altos, 4 tenors and 5 basses) drawn from the Chapel Royal. >>
Neil Halliday wrote:
< Now: that's a choir! Thanks for the details. >
Thanks for the details, indeed. But if a choir of 20 (including the presumably ill bass) is superb, is not a choir of 200 ten times as good?
Been there, done that.
Neil Halliday wrote (December 12, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
>Been there, done that.<
True - we don't want to visit those monstrosities again, not in Bach at least.
[This escalation of the size of the choir in this discussion reminds me of the Crocodile Dundee joke: you may recall that, when he was confrby a young thug with a knife in a New York street, Dundee brandished a knife the size of a sword, saying to his would be accoster -"you call that a knife?"].
Interesting that people were debating this (as related by Uri - even in Bach's day (but not in London?).
Brockes Passion - revised by Bach? [Handel-L]
Maurizio Frigeri wrote (January 20, 2010):
at Amazon.de this new recording: Amazon.de
is advertised as "Fassung von Johann Sebastian Bach", while the back cover reads "after the copy of J.S. Bach". Now I wonder to what extent this copy differs from Handel's autograph or other more usual sources. Any hints?
To Michael Marissen wrote (January 21, 2010):
[To Maurizio Frigeni] One would think Handel doesn't need the exaggerated "Version from J.S. Bach" (or, "Version by J. S. Bach") as a selling point.
Bach and a student of his wrote out a score of Handel's Brockes-Passion in the 1740s. What's different about this "Fassung" is its text at the opening chorus, which here reads:
"Kommet ihr verworfnen Sünder / Todeskinder / seht hier stirbt das Leben / euer Tod soll mit ihm sterben / sein Verderben / soll euch Rettung geben."
If Bach was the one who assigned the text to the opening chorus, this isn't clear from the appearance of his score.
Hope this helps.
David wrote (January 21, 2010):
[To Michael Marissen] Michael, as one would expect from a Bach scholar, is absolutely correct. I find the decision to record this version a bit odd, as there's never been a really adequate recording of the straightforward Handel version of the Brockes Passion (wouldn't it be wonderful if Jos van Veldhoven and the Netherlands Bach Society had a crack at it, perhaps with small vocal forces? That's on my hypothetical wish-list!).
But I suspect that Peter Neumann's decision to perform the version in Bach's ms copy had something to do with the concert taking place at a Bach festival, and no doubt this was a major influence on the booking being made, etc.
Aryeh Oron wrote (January 22, 2010):
J.S. Bach performed Handel's version of Brockes-Passion at lease twice (1746/1747 & 1749)
He also performed Pasticcio Passion, based on Markus-Passion by Friedrich Nicolaus Brauns [previously attributed to Reinhard Keiser] with insertion of 7 arias from by Handel's Brockes-Passion (1747 or 1748).
All the known recording of Handel's Brockes-Passion, including the new one, are presented at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Other/Handel-Brockes-Passion.htm
I am not yet familiar with Handel's Brockes-Passion. However the excellent version of Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel was recently reviewed in the BCML.
Neumann Brockes-Passion [HANDEL-L]
John Wall, New York [NewOlde.com] wrote (February 22, 2010):
Today I listened to the new recording of Handel's Brockes Passion by Peter Neumann et al. on Carus, immediately following the new Bach OVPP St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) by S. Kuijken. After the Brockes Passion, I played the first disk of the Egarr/AAM recording of Handel's Opus 7 organ concertos. I can recommend all of these fine recordings, but while there are competitive, alternative versions of the Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and the organ concertos, there really isn't anything comparable to the new Brockes-Passion. I've had the McGegan recording since it first came out on LP, and although it certainly was acceptable for its time, the new recording features more consistently outstanding singing and playing, as well as excellent recorded sound.
The Brockes Passion is one of the few major Handel works for which I don't have a Kalmus or Gregg HG score, but I just went to the score website and downloaded a copy for reference the next time I listen to it. To download a HG score, click HERE:
Do a find for Brockes and click on the link.
Neumann followed J.S. Bach's copy of the Handel Brockes Passion, which had different text in the opening chorus, and perhaps in another aria where the text differs substantially from the text performed by McGegan. There apparently are no musical differences between Bach's copy and other surviving copies.
There really are no weaknesses in the cast, and the playing and choral singing are also excellent. Mary Utiger is the leader and the solo violinist in the aria with violin obligato, senza continuo. The major roles were cast as follows: Tochter Zion: Nele Gramß, soprano; Gläubige Seele: Johanna Winkel, soprano; Evangelist: Markus Brutscher, tenor; Petrus: James Oxley, tenor; Jesus: Markus Flaig, bass. After listening to Gerlinde Sämann in the Kuijken St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), Nele Gramß, and Johanna Winkel, the latter of whom I had not heard previously, my observation is that they sound different from each other, but I enjoy listening to all three. There clearly is no shortage of German sopranos with excellent early/baroque vocal technique. My only reservation is that organ continuo could have been used less often, although Neumann uses it much less frequently here than he did in Susanna. Also the chorus, while not enormous at 27, still sounds a bit heavy after listening to the OVPP Matthew Passion.
A 19th Century rhyming English version is included, presumably the translation in the HG score. It's more polished but less literal that the line-by-line translation in the Hungaroton Handel & Telemann Brockes Passions. A less awkward literal translation is included with the Stölzel Brockes Passion on cpo. While Hungaroton provided a French translation, Carus only includes German and English versions.
As for the various Brockes Passions, I still prefer Telemann's operatic version to Handel's, followed by the more lyrical Mattheson version and finally Stölzel's, which is quite worthwhile despite coming in 4th in rarefied company. I haven't heard the Keiser version, which was released briefly by cpo but allowed to go out of print before I got around to ordering a copy. I see that someone is offering it for (gulp) 800 Euros on Amazon.fr.
Johan van Veen wrote (February 22, 2010):
John Wall wrote:
< Today I listened to the new recording of Handel's Brockes Passion by Peter Neumann et al. on Carus, immediately following the new Bach OVPP St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) by S. Kuijken. >
Thank you for reporting about this recording. I am looking forward to listening to it.
< As for the various Brockes Passions, I still prefer Telemann's operatic version to Handel's, followed by the more lyrical Mattheson version and finally Stölzel's, which is quite worthwhile despite coming in4th in rarefied company. I haven't heard the Keiser version, which was released briefly by cpo but allowed to go out of print before I got around to ordering a copy. I see that someone is offering it for (gulp) 800 Euros on Amazon.fr. >
The Keiser has never been out of print. It was withdrawn from the market because of copyright issues, if I remember correctly. CPO has even reclaimed all copies from retail stores. So there must be very few copies around and that could well explain the price of 800 Euros. Someone is taking the opportunity to make some bucks as he knows it is unlikely this recording will ever be reissued. It is a kind of collector's item, I suppose.
David wrote (February 22, 2010):
[To Johan van Veen] I agree that Neumann's new Brockes Passion is something quite special. I would like to hear a performance by top-class soloists who can perform the music as concertists, like a Bach one-voice-per-part style of performance. But otherwise Neumann's performance is as good as it gets. It's been a long time to wait for a decent Handel Brockes Passion recording - it's only the third one to appear, and I prefer the old 1967 Wenzinger performance on DG to the 1985 McGegan one on Hungaraton.
I'm not so keen on Telemann's Brockes Passion, insofar as I can trust Rene Jacobs's performance of it to reflect the score. Yes, it seems to be powerfully dramatic, but I suspect that this impression often has more to do with Jacobs forcing the issue, whereas, to my ears, Handel's music is more able to sustain itself without artificial additives. Perhaps hearing a different performance of the Telemann setting would modify my perspective. There are certainly moments in Handel's setting that are remarkable: Peter's "Gift und glut", the duet "Soll mein kind" for Jesus and Mary at the crucifixion, etc.
At any rate, with Neumann's Brockes Passion and Petrou's Giulio Cesare, 2010 is off to a fine start. Let's hope it isn't all downhill from here :-)
Johan van Veen wrote (February 22, 2010):
< I'm not so keen on Telemann's Brockes Passion, insofar as I can trust Rene Jacobs's performance of it to reflect the score. Yes, it seems to be powerfully dramatic, but I suspect that this impression often has more to do with Jacobs forcing the issue, whereas, to my ears, Handel's music is more able to sustain itself without artificial additives. >
I understand your opinion about Jacobs' recording of Telemann's Brockes Passion. I think he underlines the dramatic character of the work, and that is revealing showing that there is more of the opera composer in Telemann than he is usually given credit for.
But Jacobs has made some cuts - for dramatic reasons, the booklet says. What is it, I wonder, that conductors think they know better than the composer?
I have compared Jacobs' version with McGegan's, and it is hardly surprising that the cuts are mostly the more reflective arias. As a result Jacobs' performance is too one-sided, emphasizing the dramatic aspects at the cost of the more reflective side.
I also think the interpretation is less than ideal, for instance in regard to the soloists he has selected. But that is another matter.
Maurizio Frigeni wrote (February 22, 2010):
Johan van Veen wrote:
< I listened to some quite-generous clips of the Petrou Giulio Cesare on amazon.de this morning, and one of the first things I noticed was again this seeming tendency to overdo the string playing. >
Petrou chose to perform with a small group of strings: just 8 violins, 3 viols, 2 cellos and 2 double basses, while we know that Handel usually had about twice as many violins. I think this may lead violin players to be sometimes a little rougher than necessary. Minkowski's recording is probably more respectful of the original balance of instrumental forces, but overall I like Petrou's better.
I put online the Ouverture and a couple of arias in mp3 format, for those who want to get a better idea of this recording:
"Va tacito e nascosto" (Cesare): http://www.webalice.it/maurizio.frigeni/Va_tacito.mp3
"Se pietà di me non senti" (Cleopatra): http://www.webalice.it/maurizio.frigeni/Se_pieta.mp3
Johan van Veen wrote (February 22, 2010):
[To Maurizio Frigeni] Thank you VERY much for this! Yet did not Handel generally have a smaller string body for his operas than for the oratorios, the latter usually coming to around 12 violins? And was not Maestro Minkowski somewhat responsible for this digging-in we are here discussing, though I usually avoid him for his other revisionist tendencies? I have yet to listen to the selections you have kindly provided, but think I had best do so once finished with this writing!
John Wall wrote (February 22, 2010):
< I'm not so keen on Telemann's Brockes Passion, insofar as I can trust Rene Jacobs's performance of it to reflect the score. Yes, it seems to be powerfully dramatic, but I suspect that this impression often has more to do with Jacobs forcing the issue, whereas, to my ears, Handel's music is more able to sustain itself without artificial additives. Perhaps hearing a different performance of the Telemann setting would modify my perspective. There are certainly moments in Handel's setting that are remarkable: Peter's "Gift und glut", the duet "Soll mein kind" for Jesus and Mary at the crucifixion, etc. >
I passed on the heavily cut Jacobs recording of Telemann's Brockes Passion. McGegan's recording on Hungaroton is complete and competent, particularly in comparison with all the annoying HUP recordings of baroque opera and oratorio that have been released in the last few years. Jacobs's recent Haydn oratorio and Mozart opera recordings are superb, but he insists on reorchestrating and cutting baroque works like Handel's Rinaldo and Telemann's Brockes Passion.
John Wall wrote (February 22, 2010):
Johan van Veen wrote:
< The Keiser has never been out of print. It was withdrawn from the market because of copyright issues, if I remember correctly. CPO has even reclaimed all copies from retail stores. >
It's surprising that the matter couldn't be settled, in light of the limited revenue potential of a classical recording without any celebrity performers and the costs and nuisance of producing a recording and then having to recall it.
Does anyone know if another recording of the Keiser Brockes Passion is in the pipeline? Two new recordings of other Keiser sacred music either have been or are about to be released.
David wrote (February 22, 2010):
John Wall wrote:
< I passed on the heavily cut Jacobs recording of Telemann's Brockes Passion. McGegan's recording on Hungaroton is complete and competent, particularly in comparison with all the annoying HUP recordings of baroque opera and oratorio that have been released in the last few years. Jacobs's recent Haydn oratorio and Mozart opera recordings are superb, but he insists on reorchestrating and cutting baroque works like Handel's Rinaldo and Telemann's Brockes Passion. >
This has got me t, and if the following is of no interest to listers, then feel free to ignore.
It's strange that we can be eager to condemn "HUP" practices, but some of us don't seem to object to what Jacobs does to Mozart. It is every bit as bad than his performance malpractice in Rinaldo. Take for example, the ludicrous piano solo that noodles away at the beginning of Act II of Jacobs's Idomeneo (justified by Jacobs with the ridiculous argument that Mozart was too good a concert pianist just to play continuo in an opera performance - hardly a sound theory!). Or the extreme tempo and dynamic changes in his Clemenza di Tito that fly against what Mozart actually wrote in his score. I haven't yet listened to Jacobs's The Creation, but I felt that his Seasons was good enough, quite punchy, but lacking in loveliness, and vastly over-rated.
But to me this isn't simply an issue of HIP or HUP (though I find the HUP label even more problemmatic than the HIP one), but also a question of good taste and sensitivity for the material. Regardless of the historical evidence contradicting plenty of what Jacobs does, I find some of his results tasteless. Any performance of Le nozze di Figaro that fails to be emotionally moving when the Count sings "Contessa perdono" hasn't got a lot going for it, in my personal view.
I'm sure that others here will feel differently, and I don't mean to offend anyone whose likes don't match my own. But, to me, Jacobs's Mozart is a long way off anything I'd call superb. And it certainly isn't HIP according to any sensible definition of the term.
Incidentally, I'm not entirely convinced that the label "HUP" really means anything precise, as the term "historically-informed performance" is itself a compromise down from the oft-bashed and discarded old term "authenticity". "HIP" isn't intended whatsoever to suggest complete and unswerving fidelity to reconstructing historical style, but a sort of indication of a general philosophy under which most performers have their own varying tastes and ideas (some of which are more intelligent and/or historically plausible than others). Even our favourite musicians - and I suspect we'd agree on plenty of those, judging from your occasional comments of praise at NewOlde.com - are guilty of being "HUP" from time to time. So is it an unforgivable sin to take artistic licence or ignore aspects of the music, or ok as long as it doesn't involve the quirks that we happen to dislike? Using guitar and harp continuo in Handel is historically indefensible in most cases, and I find its effect to be pretty stupid, but it isn't any more "HUP" than a performance of a da capo aria when you have only harpsichord continuo but no vocal ornamentation at all.
Whether or not I like more "HIP" or "HUP" styles of performance isn't really the point I'm making. In a very general sense, I'd call myself an early music purist. But what sort of a proportion of modern inventions and compromises must a performance using period instruments possess before we denounce it as "HUP"? Who is reliable enough to decide the matter in repertoire stretching across two centuries or more? And is correctness the only priority that artists should have? Some performances that we might think are utterly "HUP" might actually contain interesting "HIP" ideas that our preferred "HIP" artists ignore, dislike or fail to tackle. So which one is HIP or HUP?
I'm not trying to pass off any of these thoughts as dogmatic gospel. They're just thoughts.
I must look out for McGegan's Telemann Brockes Passion one of these days - thanks for reminding me of it.
David wrote (February 22, 2010):
< Yet did not Handel generally have a smaller string body for his operas than for the oratorios, the latter usually coming to around 12 violins? >
No, not at all. This is a popular myth, for which there is no evidence to support it, but plenty to contradict. The proposed orchestra for the Royal Academy of Music in 1720, the eyewitness Fougeroux's report of Handel's band in 1728, Sir John Clerk's observations in his diary in 1733, and the payment books for the 1754 Foundling Hospital performance of Messiah all indicate that Handel's orchestra stayed remarkably consistent throughout his career, and that there was barely any difference between opera in earlier years and oratorio in later seasons. No doubt some small variation occured from season to season, but it is pretty clear that Handel's theatre orchestra was, generally speaking, a fair bit bigger, stronger and louder than most that we get on so-called "HIP" recordings of his operas.
To paraphrase Clerk's diary, he listed `above 24' violins (including a few violas, one imagines), four cellos, two basses, two oboes, four bassoons, two harpsichords and a theorbo. The prospective 1720 Royal Academy list is almost identical, but hoped to engage four oboes.
For chapter and verse, one needs to look in various places, but the best place to start is Mark W. Stahura's chapter "Handel and the Orchestra" in the Cambridge Companion to Handel, edited by Donald Burrows, published in 1997. See also the articles on "Instrumentation" and "Performance Practice" in the new Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia.
It is interesting to observe that the smaller baroque bands become on CD, the more exaggerated and forced their playing often becomes, and the faster tempi get, in order to compensate for the shortfall in sonority and texture. But I don't think this means for one minute that Handel's orchestra was lacking in muscle and vitality when he wanted it.
In my experience of checking the personnel that play on recordings of Handel's London operas, it is very rare that the orchestra approaches anything like what the composer would have expected.
Jeremy wrote (February 22, 2010):
Johan van Veen wrote:
< But Jacobs has made some cuts - for dramatic reasons, the booklet says. What is it, I wonder, that conductors think they know better than the composer? >
This seems to be the story of Jacobs' recording career. When he is so capable, I wish he could just bring himself to play a work as it's written.
Derek Spears wrote (February 22, 2010):
[To Jeremy] The discussion on the Telemann Brockes Passion has got me listening to it again on the car CD - suitable listening for Lent even if more appropriate for Passion tide. I am puzzled by Réné Jacobs' cuts; as far as I can see they are the following:
Peter's aria - Gift und gluth
Tochter Zion - Die Rosen krönen
Tochter Zion - Lass doch diese herbe
An aria which Handel may have set as recitative following the above aria
Recitative for Tochter Zion - Bestürzter Sünder (before the aria "Heil der Welt")
Recitative for Glaübige Seele - O Anblick ( before the chorale "O Menschenkind"
Glaübige Seele - Brich, brüllender Abgrund
Hauptmann (Centurion) - Wie kommt's, dass, da der Himmel
They are a comparison with the text of the Brockes Passion set by Handel
At first I thought that the cuts might have been occasioned by reasons of space but in fact there are twenty minutes available - the recording takes about 140 minutes. Some of the movements are reflective - others much more violent in language but there seems to be no common theme to the excisions. I am puzzled by Jacobs' decision to offer dramatic coherence as a reason; the Passion is not a "dramatic" work in that sense despite the London Handel Festival's decision to stage the Handel Brockes Passion - an honourable failure. Yes, Mattheson may have referred to the Passion Oratorio as a "sacred opera" but that may have been just as much to the musical style as anything else. The language of some the cut movements is in that perfervid style that many of us find very difficult to accept today - despite the booklet's attempt to justify it but there are other movements equally OTT that could have been cut on the same grounds. (In Bach's St. John Passion (BWV 245) it is thecomparative sobriety and simplicity of the Biblical text that puts the texts of the arias into perspective - even those borrowed from the Brockes Passion). In the end I am almost forced to the conclusion that Jacobs' didn't like the movements concerned and so they went. Brockes would have seen his work primarily as a theological interpretation of the Passion story, rather than as a dramatic retelling à la Oberammergau, and if we are to make cuts then I think it must be on theological grounds rather than pseudo dramatic ones. Even if today we may dislike the language and theology of Brockes text, I think we must recognise that it was acceptable to contemporary Lutheran thought - (and that similar language in his Passions and cantatas inspired Bach to some of his greatest work) and pay Brockes the compliment of allowing his vision to be heard complete.
Johan van Veen wrote (February 23, 2010):
[To David] What a FASCINATING response, and I MEAN that!
I indeed have read that chapter in the Cambridge Companion, but only once, and the main thing, it might come as no surprise, which stuck with me was the author's assertion that, in oratorio when there were four or more soloists in one movement, the organ should play, though no chapter and verse was cited. I did not consider the possibility that faster tempi, about which some complain these days, could also result from smaller bands along with this string aggressiveness (it further sounds as if, in certain faster movements, the theorbo is being treated as a punching bag), but at least we now have some idea that Handel would have gotten a full-blooded sound where he wanted it!
Since writing earlier, I have listened to all three files from the Petrou Cesare which one of our colleagues kindly provided, and Cleopatra's final Act-II aria provided some of the most-exquisite singing I expect to hear in Handel, thus making me want this recording for that alone, though hopefully there are other delights to be had as well! I will now be interested to hear what this Cleopatra does with "Piangero."
Johan van Veen wrote (February 23, 2010):
[To Dacid, regarding Hip-Hup music] As some moderns would put it, you are certainly on a roll today, and a JOLLY-good one at that, even if some of us may disagree on a minor point or more!
Give me my Gardiner Haydn Seasons and, though the string vibrato is not historically accurate, Sir Charles Mackerras's Mozart operas, especially Figaro, Don Giovanni (particularly praised by the late Dr. Sadie) and Die Zauberflote, probably my favourite of the lot (the Telarc recording, not the later one for Chandos), and containing more dialogue than virtually all other recordings of that opera currently known to me! That is another of my quirky "button issues."
Continue on Part 3
George Frideric Handel: Short Biography | Opera Alcina, HWV 34 | Brockes Passion, HWV 48 | Cantata Armida Abbandonata, HWV 105 | Georg Friedrich Händel & Bach: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3