G.F. Handel (1685 – 1759)

Handel Recondita

Cantatas and sonatas have been some of the most popular musical works in the Baroque period, and even today, those musical forms continue without losing that special preference. Their passage through centuries transformed their formal structures though maintaining the essence that had differentiated them since birth. The former were written for pure vocal interpretation while the latter were conceived for the instruments. The reduced number of performers, the character essentially virtuoso, and the versatility in their combinations, made both cantatas and sonatas ideal for a variety of demands in the social life during the 17th and 18thcenturies. Sonatas and cantatas were part of both religious and civil celebrations, and they were often commissioned for private events as entertainment in the salons of noblemen and patrons during intellectual gatherings and private concerts.

Without a doubt, because of its nature as opera miniature, cantatas and, specially, the camera cantatas, turned themselves into the ideal keystonefor the Baroque ornaments, which were an essential part in the aesthetic of this period. The majority of their texts were based on the Arcadian poetry, without leaving out the myths of the Classic antiquity or their historic characters, that turned out to be the fundamental source for poets and librettists for almost all Dramma per Musica that were performed in public theaters in Europe. Many of the stories were shared by different composers, but the majority of their poems have survived as anonymous. The characters from Arcadia (Clori, Nice, Tirsi, Filli…), gods and heroes could be involved in similar plots, and their messages very often served the purpose of praising the personalities of those who commissioned the composers with such works of arts. As it happened with the sonatas of this period (instrumental works in which one or several soloist instruments were accompanied by basso continuo) the short length of these words did not diminish their virtuoso quality. Singers and instrument players found in this musical form the ideal means to show off their technical abilities and expressiveness.


The so called italian period of young Handel, that extended between 1706 and 1710, brings us to his most prolific period in the composition of camera cantatas. As many of his contemporary Italians, Handel created most of his camera cantatas for soloist voice and continuo. Two representative examples are Ah, che pur troppo è vero (HWV 77), composed in Florence around 1707, and Care selve, aure grate (HWV 88), written in Rome between 1707 and 1708. A third one, Dolc‘ è purd’amor l’affanno (HWV 109b), was produced in London around 1718, which would be the period of his greatest success in opera, when he created in succession some of his best dramatic works for the theatre.

Although originally written for soprano (the first version of Dolc‘ è purwas written for alto), the plots and tessitura of each of them can perfectly fit the voice of a tenor. Love and lack of love inspired by Clori or any other unknown lover provide the motive for a succession of recitatives and arias da capo, which often serve as the foundation for some of the great Handel arias in the future. The best example can be found in the opening of the cantata Dolc‘ è pur“, whose reminiscence can be heard in the aria “Di, cor mio interpreted by the main character in Alcina’s first act.


The recording ends with two sonatas. Although both of them are here played by viola da gamba soloist, they were originally created for another instrument. HWV 363a was for oboe whereas HWV 367a was for recorder, both accompanied by basso continuo. Both works developed into new creations in different tonalities for other instruments, which was customary at that time, considering the adaptability that this type of work can offer. That constituted an ideal repertoire for evenings in palaces, nobility salons or intellectual gatherings in Old Europe.



Jorge Juan Morata – Tenor

Lixsania Fernández – Viola da gamba

Esteban Mazer – Harpsichord

Maria Alejandra Saturno – Cello

Eva del Campo – Organ

Sara Agueda – Harp

Vega Montero – Double Bass

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: