- 1Singe Seele, Gott zum PreiseGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 2In den angenehmen BueschenGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 3Meine Seele hoert im SehenGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 4Kuenftiger Zeiten eitler KummerGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 5Suesse Stille, sanfte QuelleGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 6Die ihr aus dunkeln GrueftenGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 7Das zitternde Glaenzen der spielenden WellenGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 8Suesser Blumen AmbraflockenGeorg Friedrich Händel
- 9Flammende Rose, Zierde der ErdenGeorg Friedrich Händel
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Neun Deutsche Arien
- ViolinPenelope Spencer
- OboeGail Hennessy
- OrganWilliam Drakett
- Triple HarpAileen Henry
- CelloHetti Price
- RecorderMichelle Holloway
- EngineeringAdaq Khan
- MasteringAdaq Khan
- Cover PhotoDonna Kirstein
- Session PhotoRory & Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie
- Artist photoAshley Hampson, Alex Styles
- Post proJohn Bevan
- TranslationsKeith Hannis
- ProducerAndrew King
- Creative DirJohn Bevan
- Exec ProducerAdrian Green
“A lovely recording; beautifully sung"
– James Bowman, 25 August 2017, (International Counter-tenor)
“This recording is a fresh voiced account of these wonderful pieces, full of energy and sparkle, featuring singing of lovely character with some delightful ornamentation. A welcome addition to the catalogue and a notable solo recording debut for this young artist."
– David Clegg, 15 September 2017, (International Counter-tenor)
Händel’s Neun Deutsche Arien – settings of extracts from Barthold Heinrich Brockes’ poems Irdisches vergnügen in Gott (Earthly Delight in God) – remained unpublished until 1922, becoming known as one of the composer’s best kept secrets. Their air of mystery makes them all the more beguiling. In style they are quietly theatrical, intimately elaborate, each boasting the kind of melodies that cry out for decoration, but always in a style reflective of their worshipful subject matter. Händel’s operatic writing is evident in his expressive lines and interplay with obbligato instruments, but overall these pieces are impactful through intricacies rather than extravagances and therefore have a rather more poetic flavour than an operatic one.
The arias were composed individually between 1724 and 1726, and were probably intended for performance in Hamburg.
The exact instrumentation is not specified in the surviving autograph score, however, given the ranges of the instrumental parts, violin would have been the most likely candidate for the obbligato instrument. The character of each aria is so distinctive, however, that they lend themselves to playful variations in instrumental colour to maximise these contrasts. The oasis of calm that is Süße Stille seems ideally portrayed by the combination of a soft, mellow tenor recorder with delicate triple harp, while, by contrast, the bubbling water of Das zitternde Glänzen glitters on the oboe. Some heavier, sacred texts are better served with organ and ‘cello, whereas other more lively poems call for instruments with sharper articulation such as the harpsichord and viol.
It is also, of course, rather ‘baroque’ in attitude to be adaptable with instrumentation, a testament to the inventiveness of the time and perhaps to the capricious will of the many patrons. In more intimate settings one may not always have a violin to hand, but the family might have a recorder or an oboe in a cupboard somewhere! It is reported, for example, that poet Heinrich Brockes and his family, while on a boating trip, spontaneously began singing Süße Stille, his child playing along on a flute, revealing a relaxed and improvisatory attitude towards instrumentation in informal settings at the time. This joyful creativity characterises these arias. While devotional in spirit, they feel down-to-earth, not necessarily requiring the enforced outward grandeur of opera houses or cathedrals.
The nine intricate arias, which except for In den angenehmen Büschen are in Da Capo form (ABA structure), present snapshots of different facets of our environment or humanity. It is as though Händel’s selected verses throw certain aspects of the rich landscape of Brockes’ poems into sharp relief, suddenly illuminating a ‘fiery rose’ or a ‘bubbling spring’. The intimate musical style has sometimes been attributed to the possibility that Händel composed them around the time of visiting his ailing mother in Germany, his last journey there, thus making them his last settings in his native language – a fact which adds significance to the reflective passages.
The arias are many things simultaneously: portraits of nature, worshipful of God, and instructive to mankind, subtly bridging the gap between sacred and secular. Take the title of Brockes’ collection itself: Earthly Delight in God. These are not lofty, inaccessible texts, but in true anticipation of the Enlightenment, remain rooted to humanity, addressing mankind directly. Die ihr aus dunkeln Grüften seems the most ‘human’ aria of all, describing man’s preoccupation with possessions and set in a grounded, solid style by Händel. The bridging between this and the ‘heavenly’ is illustrated beautifully in Händel’s setting of In den angenehmen Büschen, the violin line repeatedly taking us from dark to
light, weaving around the voice with descending phrases contrasted immediately by ascending ones, reaching skywards in paired γ
quavers – a melody which is always hopeful and impossible to keep down!
The most profound and sacred lines of text are usually reserved for the ‘B’ section, the musical style often shifting here to reflect this, as if turning to address the listener directly after an ‘A’ section filled with lighter, more atmospheric imagery. For example, after beginning joyfully in the first person, Meine Seele hört im Sehen turns abruptly into its ‘B’ section with “Höret nur” (“Only listen!”). Similarly, the ‘B’ section of Die ihr aus dunkeln Grüften begins with the sudden instruction “Sprecht nicht!” (“Say not!”) Flammende Rose demonstrates the most marked difference, with a purely descriptive ‘A’ section which celebrates the beauty of nature, followed by a sacred ‘B’ section which reminds us who, in fact, created it. Probably in a true reflection of our human nature, however, we are almost always tempted back to the frivolities of the A section courtesy of the Da Capo structure – we are not forced to be pious for long! There are contrasting moments of moral instruction, worship, humanity and folly throughout these arias and we are never left in any doubt how we should feel about it. Brockes provides a message, and Händel’s music instructs us as to whether we rejoice in it, reflect on it, or be fearful of it.
– Penelope Appleyard, Autumn 2016
Often described as a baroque soprano, Penelope is becoming known for the purity and agility of her voice and her stylish interpretations of historical repertoire.
Graduating with Distinction from Birmingham Conservatoire, she studied with Christine Cairns and was awarded further specialist early music coaching with Andrew King. While studying there she sang in the acclaimed Chamber Choir with Jeffrey Skidmore and Paul Spicer, and co-founded Florisma, which went on to win the Conservatoire’s Corton-Hyde Early Music Competition. Prior to this she gained a First Class Honours degree and Masters degree (with distinction) in Performance from the University of Chichester, where she studied singing with Jacquelyn Fugelle, first sang with a harpsichord and developed her particular passion for baroque music.
She now performs as a soloist and ensemble singer in concert and early opera, having sung at major venues throughout the UK and internationally. She has performed regularly as a soloist with the New London Consort, roles having included Cupid–Venus & Adonis Dorinda–The Tempest, Shepherdess & Siren–King Arthur, Bonvica–Bonduca, Pallas–The Judgment of Paris, Mopsa/Nymph–The Fairy Queen, and Belinda–Dido and Aeneas alongside Roderick Williams. She has also worked with ensembles including the Taverner Consort, The Monteverdi Choir, Armonico Consort, Arcangelo, The London Bach Singers and Feinstein Ensemble, the Orchestra of St John’s and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has appeared as a step out soloist on several recordings.
She sings regularly as a soloist in concert, engagements having included Bach’s B Minor Mass at the Bologna Festival and at Bath Abbey with David Roblou and Philip Pickett, Arne’s Alfred with Steven Devine and Linden Baroque, Monteverdi’s Vespers, 1610 with Laurence Cummings and extracts of Purcell’s King Arthur (Cupid) for the Brighton Early Music Festival.
Penelope has a particular love for historical chamber music. She sings with Dowland Works led by Dame Emma Kirkby and often collaborates with lutenist Hector Sequera. She has given recitals at Handel House and performed Purcell songs with the Orchestra of St John’s at St John’s Smith Square. Additionally Penelope sings with a cappella group Apollo5, with whom she enjoys performing many styles from early music to folk, pop and jazz.