Georg Friedrich Händel: Neun Deutsche Arien (CR043)

Review by Andrew Benson Wilson, Early Music Reviews+

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Handel’s Neun Deutsche Arien (Nine German Arias) were composed around 1725, some sixteen years after his arrival in London. In sharp contrast to his compositions at the time (which included the operas Tamerlano, Rodelinda, and Alessandro), these nine short arias, all but one in da capo form, are intimate small-scale pieces for a solo singer, a solo instrument and continuo bass.

The texts are extracts from Barthold Heinrich Brockes’ collection of poems Irdisches vergnügen in Gott (Earthly Delight in God) published in 1721. They hark back to Handel’s early days in Hamburg when Pietism was an importand aspect of Lutheran thinking. Clearly intended for domestic rather than concert performance, the pieces seem to reflect a type of home music making combined with personal devotion.

The singer is soprano Penelope Appleyard. Her sensitive and expressive singing is ideal for the repertoire, imparting an entirely appropriate air of gentle innocence to the melodic lines. Her persistent, but very slight, vibrato should not upset the HIP purists, who should appreciate the purity of her voice.

She is accompanied by the instrumentliats of Ensemble Florisma, a group founded in 2011 by early music students at the Birmingham Conservatoire. The continuo group is William Drakett, harpsichord/organ, Aileen Henry, triple harp, Hetti Price, cello/viola da gamba with instrumental solos from from Penelope Spencer, violin, Gail Hennessy, oboe and Michelle Holloway, recorder. The choice of solo instrument and continuo forces is not indicated in the score, but the choices made in this recording are very effective, nicely reflectibng the tone and mood of the text and the music of each aria.

Andrew Benson Wilson, Early Music Reviews+, 10th October, 2020

Further Information

Early Music Reviews +

(Introduction by Andrew Benson Wilson) I am an organ recitalist, based in England, specializing in early music. As well as my organ performances, writing has always been an important part of my musical activities. I have written many articles on organ topics and early music, as well as the little book ‘The Performance of Early Organ Music’. For 20 years until its demise, I was the principal concert and organ CD reviewer for Early Music Review magazine, alongside freelance writing and reviewing in specialist early music and organ magazines. My reviewing is now on this review website.

Visit website: Early Music Reviews +

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