Monday, April 19, 2010

The Music: Handel, But Who May Abide from Messiah

In Chapter Three of So Faithful a Heart, Nancy is invited by the Baron von Swieten to sing for one of his Sunday musicales, to sing several of the soprano solos in Handel's Messiah.

"At the conclusion of the overture, Michael stood and began to sing the first recitative and the accompanying air, Every Valley, which was followed by the chorus, And the Glory of the Lord. Nancy and Michael were amused as the group, made up primarily of Viennese men and women, with the occasional Italian, struggled with the English pronunciations. On several occasions they would stop the music and defer to their English guests on how to correctly pronounce some of the more difficult words. Then after Nancy stood and gave her rendition of the air But Who May Abide, she was greeted with thunderous applause by the gathering, who were most notably impressed by her skillful manipulation of the difficult melismatic passages in the prestissimo section." 
It is recorded  that Mozart was in regular attendance at these Sunday musicales hosted by the Baron in his home. Van Swieten was a lover of fugues and therefore was greatly enamored of the music of both Bach and Handel. He was a great admirer of Mozart's and introduced him to the music of Bach and Handel, as well as hired him to accompany his Sunday afternoon musicales, which were held in van Swieten's large library.

The aria, But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming, is generally sung by bass in most contemporary performances, but Handel originally composed it to be sung by soprano. The following recording features soprano Lorraine Hunt with Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

No comments :

Post a Comment