Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/136

This page has been validated.



parts several movements were combined.[1] Sometimes the second part was recitative,[2] or it was extremely condensed.[3] When Handel had choruses at his disposal in his oratorios, he often entrusted the Da Capo to the Chorus.[4] He went further: in Samson, after Micah has sung in the second act the first two parts of the air "Return, O God of Hosts," the chorus takes up the second part at the same time as Micah returns to the first part. Finally he attempts to divide the Da Capo between two characters, thus in the second act of Saul, Jonathan's solo "Sin not, King, against the youth," is followed by Saul's solo, then appearing note for note.

But the most glorious feat of Handel in vocal solos is the "recitative scene."

It was Keiser who taught him the art of those moving recitative-ariosi with orchestra, which he had already used in Almira, and of which, later on, J. S. Bach was to take from him the style. He never ceased to employ it in his London operas, and he gave the form a superb amplitude. They are not merely isolated recitatives or preambles to an extended solo.[5] The story of Cæsar in the third act

  1. Examples ; Teseo, Medea's; Moriro, ma vendioata; Amadigi air, T'amai quanf il mio cor.
  2. Riccardo I, air, Morte, vieni.
  3. In the airs da capo of Ariodante, the second part is restricted to five bars.
  4. L' Allegro ed Penseroso, 1st air, Part 3, Come with native lustre shine; after the 2nd part comes a recitative, then the chorus sings the Da Capo.—In Alexander's Feast the air, He sung Darius, great and good; after the 2nd part comes a recitative, then the Da Capo with Chorus, but altogether free; to speak truly, the Da Capo is only in the instrumental accompaniment.
  5. Handel has found a musical language passing by imperceptible steps from recitative secco, almost spoken, to recitativo accompagnato, then to the air. In Scipione (1726) the phrases of the accompanied recitative are enshrined in small frameworks of spoken recitative (see p. 23 of the Complete Handel Edition, the air, Oh sventurati). The final air in the first act is a compromise between speech and, song. The accompanied recitative runs naturally into the air.