Georg Friedrich HAENDEL (1685 – 1759)
Florie Valiquette Soprano
Nicholas Scott Ténor
Virgile Ancely Basse
Marguerite Louise Chœur et orchestre
Gaétan Jarry Direction
After three years in Italy, during which he emerged as a major composer, the young Handel (he was twenty-five) arrived in London in 1710 and conquered the world capital with his operas. Brilliant in his operatic productions of Rinaldo, Il Pastor Fido and Amadigi, Handel was attached to the service of the royal family, and supported and protected by many patrons. But 1717 marked both a high point, with the famous Water Music given for George II's sailing up the Thames, and a transitional moment for Handel. The absence of performances of his works from 1717 to 1719 is a testament to the fragility of the economic model of London opera: a period that he used to build a new model, which was to become the Royal Academy of Music, hosted in Canons, in the North of London, by the Duke of Chandos, a wealthy and prestigious patron...
"No nobleman in England, and very few in Europe, lead a life of such splendour, magnificence and nobility as the Duke of Chandos," wrote Daniel Defoe in 1725.
Handel thus entered the service of the court of James Brydges, Earl of Carnarvon, Duke of Chandos whose sumptuous palace was under construction, and worked with the musical forces assembled by the prince for his personal use. Handel composed eleven antiphons for choir, soloists and chamber orchestra for the court's religious services. With the chapel still under construction, the services were held in the St Lawrence parish church.
A veritable precious collection of masterpieces, and a "laboratory" for the master's future great oratorios, this corpus of psalms displays a remarkable syncretism of genres - typical of Handel and his career - in which impressions of North German cantatas, Italian sonatas, and arias in the pure English tradition of Purcell intersect. Too often underestimated, these gems immediately captivate with their delicate texture, their virtuosity, and their colours, all of which are magnificently rendered by Handel's genius, to the great glory of the Duke of Chandos!