WORKS: Neun Deutsche Arien, HWV 202-10; Trio Sonata in F, HWV 392; Gloria
PERFORMER: Emma Kirkby (soprano); London Baroque
CATALOGUE NO: BIS CD-1615
Handel’s music from his early years, in Hamburg and Italy, has a remarkably sure touch, coupled with an exuberant spirit which he seldom matched again.
The Nine German Arias are to texts by Brockes who, preparing a later edition, praised Handel for ‘[setting] them to music in a very special way’. Emma Kirkby expresses with radiant ease and simplicity the confident Pietistic message which runs through them, of God’s goodness reflected in the beauties of nature.
The F major trio sonata is quite extraordinarily original. Its second movement in particular has some astonishing harmonic moments – 11 of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale occur within the space of a single bar and its surprise ending plumbs harmonic depths which are still striking 300 years after they were written.
Emma Kirkby made the world premiere recording of the Gloria in 2001. It was a breath-taking performance, passionate in the pleading movements, uninhibited in praise, and with a virtuosic white-knuckle ride through the final ‘Amen’. Yet I prefer her second thoughts, a touch slower, pure exhilaration tempered by subtle nuances. London Baroque accompanies most sensitively, and sound is spacious and admirably balanced. George Pratt