Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


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Miscellaneous Notes

G.F. Handel: "'O come, let us sing unto the Lord," H. 253 (Chandos Anthem 8)

Handel spent a couple of years (1717 – 1718) as resident composer at Cannons, the home of James Brydges (later known as the Duke of Chandos).  He wrote nearly a dozen large scale anthems during his tenure as well as the masque Acis and Galetea and Esther, considered the first oratorio in English. Though the scoring of the Anthems - violins, continuo and a few wind instruments – reflects the modest resources available to Handel at Cannons, these pieces are nevertheless astonishingly inventive and rich in detail; they are unquestionably the forerunners of the large scale pieces that were to come.

'O come, let us sing unto the Lord' is one of the longest and most ambitious of the Anthems. The piece opens imposingly with a two-part Sinfonia: the first part alternating dotted French Overture rhythms with undulating pastoral thirds from two solo violins; the lively second part serves as a nice transition to the impressive first chorus. There are four solo arias. The first aria for tenor serves as a pastoral interlude with two recorders doubling the strings at the octave. The aria 'O magnify the Lord' makes scant use of the continuo. It becomes mainly a trio for the two violin parts and the solo soprano, appropriately descriptive of the Lord 'Upon his holy hill'. The choral writing provides certain challenges. The alto part is as much a first tenor part as anything, often lying below the range of the 'actual' tenors. The brilliant writing for the chorus and orchestra suggests that he had skilled musicians at his disposal. Certainly the flexing of this kind of compositional muscle was to serve Handel very well in the later Oratorios.

©Michael Beattie