Thursday, February 3, 2011

Handel - Brockes Passion - McGegan, Capella Savaria







Handel's works are generally to Italian or English texts, and to find a German-language passion oratorio by him can be a surprise. In fact, he appears to have written it around 1716/1717 after spending an extended "vacation" in his German homeland. The libretto by the piousNicholas McGegan Hamburg poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes was very much "en vogue" at the time and was set to music by no less than four well-known composers: Keiser, Mattheson, Telemann and Handel himself. Typically for the Protestant German tradition of the time, it tells the story of the arrest, trial and death of Jesus Christ, but not strictly in the words of the Gospels; rather, the words of the Gospels are put into poetic form and complemented by pious comments allegedly coming from those involved in the story. In a sense, this was a musical "set piece", and although Handel obviously took a certain amount of trouble over the work, it is not to be expected that it should be particularly original. While listening to it, I heard parallels to other works by Handel, but also anticipations of Bach's passions - meaning not that Bach "copied" Handel, but rather that both were working within the framework of a common tradition. And of course, the libretto was not tailor-made for Handel's needs, so it is perhaps not surprising that some of the music sounds a little "forced". Nonetheless, there are a many number of fine moments to be heard here, and those who love Handel will enjoy themselves thoroughly. 



1 comment:

  1. I have that version, with the boys (Stadtsingechor zu Halle). Lovely "von den Stricken meiner Sünden".



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