Handel - Arcadian Affairs: Continuo Cantatas | Simax PSC1365

Handel - Arcadian Affairs: Continuo Cantatas


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Label: Simax

Cat No: PSC1365

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 20th March 2020



Handel’s years in Italy (ca. 1706-1710) were extremely creative. His chamber cantatas were performed by the most eminent singers and instrumentalists in Rome. Exploring the art of continuo playing in Handel’s ‘continuo cantatas’, harpsichordist Christian Kjos, soprano Ditte Marie Brćin and mezzo-soprano Marianne Beate Kielland release an album with captivating interpretations.

The chamber cantata was a popular genre in Italy. Their main subject is passionate love in all its facets between the shepherds in the romanticized region of Arcadia in Greece. Handel wrote around seventy continuo cantatas – a lesser known genre among his rich output – performed at weekly musical gatherings in the palaces of his Roman patrons.

“Continuo playing can be rendered in various degrees of complexity, depending on the skill of the performer. The treatise Grosse General-Bass-Schule (Hamburg, 1731) by Johann Mattheson – Handel’s friend from his Hamburg years – gave me the incentive to research this rarely heard approach and to try it out in Handel’s equally rarely played continuo cantatas where the continuo part is so fundamental to the result. What might be most noticeable is how frequently I abandon chordal playing to let more melodic material, imitations, parallel thirds and added dissonances into the realization, making it sound closer to an obbligato harpsichord part. Therefore, I have deliberately chosen to render these cantatas solely with harpsichord accompaniment. This chamber musical duo format – like the later German Lieder – seems especially suitable in terms of chamber musical flexibility, and in order to hear the independent realization even better.” – Christian Kjos

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