Handel: Neun Deutsches Arien

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: BIS
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

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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.

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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