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Handel: Messiah | Music Appreciation
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Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
Although Messiah is not in any particular key, Handel's tonal scheme has been summarised by the musicologist Anthony Hicks as "an aspiration towards D major", the key musically associated with light and glory. As the oratorio moves forward with various shifts in key to reflect changes in mood, D major emerges at significant points, primarily the "trumpet" movements with their uplifting messages. It is the key in which the work reaches its triumphant ending.
For example, the musicologist Rudolf Steglich has suggested that Handel used the device of the "ascending fourth " as a unifying motif ; this device most noticeably occurs in the first two notes of "I know that my Redeemer liveth" and on numerous other occasions.
Nevertheless, Luckett finds this thesis implausible, and asserts that "the unity of Messiah is a consequence of nothing more arcane than the quality of Handel's attention to his text, and the consistency of his musical imagination". From the gentle falling melody assigned to the opening words "Comfort ye" to the sheer ebullience of the "Hallelujah" chorus and the ornate celebratory counterpoint that supports the closing "Amen", hardly a line of text goes by that Handel does not amplify".
The opening Sinfony is composed in E minor for strings, and is Handel's first use in oratorio of the French overture form. Jennens commented that the Sinfony contains "passages far unworthy of Handel, but much more unworthy of the Messiah";  Handel's early biographer Charles Burney merely found it "dry and uninteresting". The pastoral interlude that follows begins with the short instrumental movement, the Pifa , which takes its name from the shepherd-bagpipers, or pifferari , who played their pipes in the streets of Rome at Christmas time.
The remainder of Part I is largely carried by the soprano in B flat, in what Burrows terms a rare instance of tonal stability. The second Part begins in G minor, a key which, in Hogwood's phrase, brings a mood of "tragic presentiment" to the long sequence of Passion numbers which follows. The sense of desolation returns, in what Hogwood calls the "remote and barbarous" key of B flat minor, for the tenor recitative "All they that see him".
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This, as Young points out, is not the climactic chorus of the work, although one cannot escape its "contagious enthusiasm". Commentators have noted that the musical line for this third subject is based on Wachet auf , Philipp Nicolai 's popular Lutheran chorale. The opening soprano solo in E major, "I know that my Redeemer liveth" is one of the few numbers in the oratorio that has remained unrevised from its original form.
Handel's awkward, repeated stressing of the fourth syllable of "incorruptible" may have been the source of the 18th-century poet William Shenstone 's comment that he "could observe some parts in Messiah wherein Handel's judgements failed him; where the music was not equal, or was even opposite , to what the words required". The reflective soprano solo "If God be for us" originally written for alto quotes Luther 's chorale Aus tiefer Not.
It ushers in the D major choral finale: "Worthy is the Lamb", leading to the apocalyptic "Amen" in which, says Hogwood, "the entry of the trumpets marks the final storming of heaven". Many early recordings of individual choruses and arias from Messiah reflect the performance styles then fashionable—large forces, slow tempi and liberal reorchestration.
The first near-complete recording of the whole work with the cuts then customary [n 10] was conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham in It represented an effort by Beecham to "provide an interpretation which, in his opinion, was nearer the composer's intentions", with smaller forces and faster tempi than had become traditional. In the first recording based on Handel's original scoring was conducted by Hermann Scherchen for Nixa , [n 11] quickly followed by a version, judged scholarly at the time, under Sir Adrian Boult for Decca. They inaugurated a new tradition of brisk, small scale performances, with vocal embellishments by the solo singers.
By the end of the s the quest for authenticity had extended to the use of period instruments and historically correct styles of playing them. The first of such versions were conducted by the early music specialists Christopher Hogwood and John Eliot Gardiner The latter employs a chorus of 24 singers and an orchestra of 31 players; Handel is known to have used a chorus of 19 and an orchestra of Several reconstructions of early performances have been recorded: the Dublin version by Scherchen in , and again in , and by Jean-Claude Malgoire in  There are several recordings of the Foundling Hospital version, including those under Hogwood , Andrew Parrott , and Paul McCreesh.
The first published score of , together with Handel's documented adaptations and recompositions of various movements, has been the basis for many performing versions since the composer's lifetime. Modern performances which seek authenticity tend to be based on one of three 20th-century performing editions.
In addition to Mozart's well-known reorchestration, arrangements for larger orchestral forces exist by Goossens and Andrew Davis ; both have been recorded at least once, on the RCA  and Chandos  labels respectively. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Oratorio by Handel. Main article: Structure of Handel's Messiah.
Main article: Messiah Part I. Main article: Messiah Part II. Air Alto : He was despised. Chorus: Hallelujah. The article is absent from the proper title. Ebenezer Prout pointed out that the edition was published as "F. Mozarts Bearbeitung" — "nach" meaning after rather than in Mozart's arrangement.
Prout noted that a Mozart edition of another Handel work, Alexander's Feast published in accordance with Mozart's manuscript, was printed as "mit neuer Bearbeitung von W. Mozart" "with new arrangement by W. Both recordings have appeared on other labels in both LP and CD formats.
A copyright-free transfer of the version digitized from original vinyl discs by Nixa Records is available on YouTube: part 1 , part 2 , part 3. Hicks, Anthony Sadie, Stanley ; Tyrrell, John eds. London: Macmillan. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 20 July Grove Music Online. Retrieved 15 June Archived from the original on 8 September Retrieved 5 November Retrieved 16 June British Library. Retrieved 18 May Irish Arts Review — Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 20 May Westminster Abbey. Archived from the original on 13 February The Daily Universal Register.
August The Musical Times. Journal of the Royal Musical Association.
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Classical Net. Retrieved 11 June Proceedings of the Musical Association, 30th Session — The Smithsonian Institution.
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