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25,90 €

George Frideric Handel
Alexander’s Feast


REF.: FB 1615566
EAN 13: 4260307435660
Si realiza el pedido hoy, este producto estará listo para ser enviado el lunes 09/12/2019

Alexander’s Feast data de 1736, un tiempo en el que George Frideric Handel procuraba compensar la falta de interés del público londinense por sus óperas italianas con la presencia de oratorios en inglés. Esta partitura tiene el honor de ser una de sus tres obras sacras más interpretadas, apenas superada por The Messiah

FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN
01/12/2016

INTÉRPRETES
Miriam Feuersinger, soprano
Daniel Johannsen, tenor
Matthias Helm, barítono
Kammerchor Feldkirch
Concerto Stella Matutina
Benjamin Lack, dirección


CONTENIDO
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): 

Alexander’s Feast or The Power of Musick. An ode wrote in honour of St. Cecilia 

2 CD - DDD -

RESEÑA (La Quinta de Mahler)

Alexander’s Feast  or The Power of Musick. An ode wrote in honour of St. Cecilia by Mr Dryden. Set to musick by Mr Handel.

– as the first edition is entitled – dates from 1736, a time when Handel was attempting to counter the dwindling interest in his Italian operas with oratorios in English. Indeed this work, which resembles an oratorio, found immediate popularity and was quickly counted alongside «Messiah» among his best-loved compositions. Only «Acis and Galatea» and «Messiah» were performed more frequently than «Alexander‘s Feast» during the composer‘s lifetime.

The work is based on an ode by John Dryden, adapted by Newburgh Hamilton (and probably also to some extent by Handel himself) as a sequence of recitatives, arias and choruses in oratorio form. The material is taken from an episode by the Greek historian Plutarch: During a banquet held by Alexander the Great to celebrate his victory over the Persians, the courtesan Thaïs incites him in a fiery speech to avenge the destruction of her Greek homeland by the Persians with a conflagration of the city of Persepolis. Dryden alters the incident insofar as Alexander is seduced not by the sensuality and rhetoric of the courtesan but rather by the musical skill of the bard Timotheus who, according to Dryden‘s poem, already knew how to overcome the victorious commander with the power of music. After a majestic overture and a chorus of jubilation, Handel‘s setting continues with Timotheus flattering Alexander‘s pride with a description of his godly provenance before elevating the general celebratory mood further with a song of praise to the god of wine, Bacchus. But Timotheus is also capable of arousing the Macedonian king‘s respectful pity for the defeated Persian king abandoned on the battlefield, in order to contrast it even more forcefully with the power of his love for Thaïs, a more permanent source of true happiness. Alexander, however, falls asleep exhausted in the arms of the courtesan Thaïs during the course of the banquet.

Timotheus rescues this embarrassing situation, and thus the ­celebrations, in the second part of the work. Rather than releasing the host from his warlike duties, he drags him out of sleep with an ­increasingly forceful vision of revenge for the Greek soldiers slain in battle. Alexander is again ready to fight and together with Thaïs heads the ­column which is to set Persepolis aflame. Dryden does not ­mention that the historical Alexander immediately ordered the flames to be ­extinguished, choosing instead to emphasise that the behaviour and actions ­Timotheus triggers are but one aspect of the power of music. Only with the appearance of the divine Cecilia does its whole force, completed by the spiritual aspect, become apparent and indeed audible: «He raised a mortal to the skies, she drew an Angel down.»

The first performance of Alexander‘s Feast took place on 19th ­February 1736 in London at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and was an ­immediate success. Handel had completed work on the ­composition one month previously, adding the words «Fine, 17 January 1736». The «Ode in honour of St. Cecilia» was often revived up until 1755, ­appearing together with a wide variety of other works such as organ concertos, concerti grossi, cantatas and even (in 1751) with «The ­Choice of ­Hercules» HWV 69 as a third part of a concert. It is worth mentioning that the piece was only once performed on the day for which it was originally intended, St. Cecilia‘s Day, on 22nd November 1739. Handel clearly took great pains in setting Dryden‘s text. Only four ­movements have their origins in other Handel works, such as «Orlando» or «Lotario». True to form, he invested even this short scene from the life of Alexander the Great with his unmistakable talent for expressing characterisation of mood and affect in telling music. Perhaps the most striking example is the accompagnato scene «Thus, long ago»; to the accompaniment of sighing, complaining recorders in thirds, the narrative turns away from the furious Alexander, Timotheus and the warriors and from the pillage of Persepolis towards St. Cecilia.

It is hardly surprising that the following notice appeared in the London Daily Post on 20th February 1739, the day after the first performance: «Last Night his Royal Highness the Duke, and her Royal Highness the Princess Amelia were at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, to hear Mr. Dryden’s Ode, set to Musick by Mr. Handel. Never was upon the like Occasion so numerous and splendid an Audience at any Theatre in London, there being at least 1300 Persons present; and it is judg’d that the Receipt of the House could not amount less than 450 £. It met with general Applause, tho attended with the Inconvenience of having the Performers placed at too great a distance from the Audience, which we hear wil be rectified the next Time of Performance.»
Bernhard Trebuch
Translation: Roderick Shaw

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