Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The words, the music

Image: Manuscript of the Messiah  ca. 1741
By Georg Friedrich Händel ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Messiah. Often it is incorrectly called The Messiah.

An oratorio composed by Georg Friedrich Handel. The oratorio used the words (libretto) that were written by Charles Jennens.

Many of us know the Messiah for its "Hallelujah!" section. I always thought of the Messiah as an Easter/Lent performance - but there is much much more to this famous work. 
E and I joined Elsa in a presentation of a Candlelight Messiah, performed by the Phoenix Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. The presentation was at Elsa's church - and granted, the WHOLE Phoenix Symphony was not there... The oboes, bassoons, trumpets, strings strings strings, and timpani represented the Symphony. 

The performance we attended was not the complete Messiah - that came at a later evening performance. Our performance, the Candlelight, included parts of the Messiah separated by pieces by William Boyce, C.P.E. Bach, and Georg Philipp Telemann. Lots of Baroque music at this candlelight presentation...

I learned so much about Handel's signature composition. Three pieces combine to form the Messiah. The first piece is the Christmas story - for unto us a child is born.
The second piece is the life, resurrection and ascension - surely He hath borne our griefs.
The third piece is the Hallelujah - the thanks and amen.

I guess I could have learned this from just reading a wiki page or encyclopedic entry. But I enjoyed living the 'aha' moment... the "Ah, this is what it is all about".  It couldn't just be the music. It had to be Jennens words.

My favorite passage of music, however, was Telemann's Aria. A haunting piece performed by just an oboe (or was it a bassoon?) and viola. The symphony's conductor, Michael Christie, stood a bit aside for this piece. The viola not only played his part but 'led' the oboe/bassoon. Amazing. Beautiful. To listen to the music was not enough - to see it performed made it breath taking. 




Is the Messiah one of your favorite pieces? If so, use the comments to tell us why!


giantspeckledchihuahua said...

I've always's enjoyed handel's Messiah, I can't imagine how powerful it would be listened to when performed live! Lucky YOU!

Thérèse said...

Perfect to enter Christmas mood!

Sandra said...

what a wonderful way to learn. i know it was beautiful and inspiring. i can feel your excitment in your writing

Naturedigital said...

A great work of handel.

Lucy (aka RHarper) said...

It's most incredible. I thoroughly think that Handel was inspired from start to finish. There's not a part of it I do not like. I loved this post!

Kathy said...

Why? Why do I love the sunrise? Why? Why do I love my grandson. I just do and it just is. Another dear friend went to this performance this past weekend. Have yet to hear her review but I'm sure it's also full of praise.