The history of masterworks of early music is generally enclosed within a cycle covering the genesis, oblivion and rediscovery of a given work (normally occurring during the nineteenth or twentieth century). George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is a rare case of a work that escapes the last two categories. Even after its composer’s death, when times and tastes altered radically, Handel’s oratorio continued to enjoy unwaning popularity, becoming over the years one of the most frequently performed choral works in history. Like a mediaeval icon placed in a series of new frames, Handel’s original score was arrayed in a succession of new guises, in order to satisfy changing aesthetics and performance practice. Originally scored for typical – although modest for Handel – forces of soloists, choir and rather small orchestra, this work was reworked, enriched with different instruments (such as clarinets and horns in the version by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or percussion with cymbals in the mid-nineteenth century) and performed by monumental ensembles numbering several hundred to several thousand musicians. Today, Handel’s masterwork is performed by both amateur and philharmonic ensembles, and also by musicians specialising in so-called historically informed performance. The triumphant ‘Hallelujah’ chorus remains to this day one of the most popular pieces of Baroque music.
the concert will take place with one 20-minute intermission