Gerorge Frideric Handel, as a well-established composer in Britain, knew how to understand and to adapt his music to the demands of the commissions he received. Amongst the more than 40 operas of his repertory, we find first-class dramatic content, based on his studies about Italian baroque and the German polyphonic tradition. It is well known that Mozart said of him: “Handel understands effect better than any of us. When he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt”.
With Handel on the Road, Symphonia Orbitalis Chamber Orchestra pays homage to this composer, centering on the role of Armida, created for his opera Rinaldo and based on Torquato Tasso’s epic poem, Gerusalemme Liberata. This project continues the studies on the baroque orchestra for two recorders, strings and continuo, explored in 2018.
The program begins with the overture to Rinaldo and its well-defined three sections. The Adagio, written originally for oboe solo, will be performed by recorders in two repetitions, in order to enhance the ornamentation of these instruments.
As an interlude among the three main works of the program, the orchestra will perform two arrangements of Handel’s Suites for Harpsichord. The first one will be the Passacaglia in G minor taken from the Suite HWV 432 and arranged to the orchestra. In this piece we observe the composer’s creative skills which, on a theme and variations, the orchestra will perform as if it were a dialog between violins and recorders.
The central piece of the program will be the Music for the Royal Fireworks, a work intended to celebrate the end of the War of Austrian Succession and the signature of the Aix-la-Chapelle Treaty. Against the wish of King George II, who commissioned the work only for wind instruments, Symphonia Orbitalis will perform the piece more closely to Handel’s way of thinking, who later included string instruments.
After the brilliant music for the Royal Fireworks, the program encounters its second interlude. The orchestra attempts the Sarabande in D minor of the Suite HWV 437 which is likely to be one of the most performed pieces in many instrumental formats. Our vision of the work encounters again the ornamentation and improvisatory abilities of the recorders accompanied by the strings and the continuo.
The concert will end with the Armida Abbandonata Cantata, for soprano, strings and continuo.Composed in 1707, this cantata was one of the Handel’s first drafts before composing his opera Rinaldo in 1711. We here find the misfortunes of the sorceress Armida after being abandoned by his beloved Rinaldo. She had held him in captivity at her hidden gardens to stop the Christian army fromlaying siege on the city of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. When performed, the listener feels the different moods that any human being faces when experiencing heartbreak.
Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of Symphonia Orbitalis Chamber Orchestra