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William Christie conducts Handel

Concertgebouw: Main HallConcertgebouwplein 10, Amsterdam, North Holland, 1071 LN, Netherlands
Dates/times in Amsterdam time zone
Saturday 11 December 202113:30

With his Les Arts Florissants, William Christie, the 'old hand' in the early music world, performs Handel's oratorio L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Two years older than Messiah.

Between Saul and Messiah
The 'continental' composer Georg Friedrich Handel made opera popular in England, but under the influence of Anglican culture he completely revised his views on the German and Italian oratorio. Handel composed L'Allegro in 1740, just after the great dramatic oratorio Saul and two years before his monumental Messiah. The starting point is not a biblical-dramatic tale, but actually a vocal-intellectual thought exercise about the two fundamental moods of man: cheerfulness (L'Allegro) and contemplation (Il Penseroso), based on poems by John Milton. Librettist Charles Jennens, who also composed the texts for Saul and Messiah, added a third part in the spirit of the Enlightenment: Il Moderato, moderation. Soloists and choir constantly alternate.

A highlight is the magical final chorus of the second movement: 'These pleasures, Melancholy, give, / And we with thee will choose to live,' based on the Anglican verse anthem. Also moving is the duet for soprano and tenor in part three, 'As steals the morn upon the night', which Jennens picked from Shakespeare's Tempest and which Handel provides with a heartbreakingly beautiful oboe accompaniment.

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