Alexander the Great – born 356 BC, Pella (Macedonia), died 323 BC, Babylon, king of Macedonia. He overthrew the Persian empire, marched with his army up to the border of India and laid the foundations for the Hellenistic world of territorial kingdoms. Alessandro (HWV 21) – opera composed by Georg Friederich Händel in 1726 for the Royal Academy of Music. Paolo Rolli’s libretto is based on the story of Ortensio Mauro’s La superbia d’Alessandro. This was the first time the famous singers Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni appeared together in one of Händel’s operas.
Driving to the office with Baroque music can be very stimulating to ponder the future of the world, the question of Good and Evil, and if that sounds grandiose to you, well, I indulge in 45 minutes of meditation where others have written 2-hour-long oratorios about the same subject. We have already met the wonderful composer Emilio di Cavalieri, who lived at the threshold from the Renaissance to the Baroque era and who, in his monumental work “Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo” imagined a dialogue between the soul and the body: In songs, madrigals and recitals, the two allegorical characters argue about worldly lust and spiritual salvation.
I have made my peace with Georg Friedrich Händel. More than a year ago I explained in a post on Händel’s keyboard sonatas how I had come to hate his music being constantly exposed to it when I lived in Halle. Since then I have explored his music with much candour and I discovered many a treasure. Recently I wrote about his sonatas for recorder and this collection features also a number of sonatas for oboe and basso continuo. To celebrate spring in all its splendour, its freshness, its vitality, you may wish to listen to his Trio Sonata for Two Oboes and Basso Continuo No. 1 (HWV 396) and No. 6 (HWV 401), written in A and F. They have been recorded like the sonatas for recorder by musicians from the Academy of St. Martins in the Fields.
Did you have music lessons at school? Then perhaps you learned to play the recorder, this very basic woodwind instrument. Well, the recorder is more than just a school instrument for children. It has been in use as a music instrument in its own right since the Middle Ages up to the Baroque period, when it enjoyed a wide popularity. Georg Friedrich Händel has written several sonatas for recorder and basso continuo*. And they are worth to be known a little better.