Page:Romain Rolland Handel.djvu/143

This page has been validated.



sive stages from solos to ensemble pieces, and then to choruses. At the end of the first act of Ariodante, a duet (gavotte style) is taken up by the chorus, then danced without voices; finally sung and danced. The close of Act III from the same opera gives us a chain of processions, dances, and choruses. The final scenes of Alessandro constitute a veritable opera finale, 2 duets and a trio running into a chorus.

But it is in his oratorios that Handel attempted these ensemble vocal combinations on the larger scale, and principally that mixture of movements where the powerful contrasts of soli and chorus are grouped together in the same picture.

One sees what a variety of forms and styles he used. Handel was too universal and too objective to believe that one kind of art only was the true one. He believed in two kinds of music only, the good and the bad. Apart from that he appreciated all styles. Thus he has left masterpieces in every style, but he did not open any new way in opera for the simple reason that he went a long way in nearly all paths already opened up. Constantly he experimented, invented, and always with his singularly sure touch. He seemed to have an extraordinary penetrating knowledge in invention, and consequently few artistic regions remained for him to conquer. He made as masterly a use of the recitative as Gluck, or of the arioso as Mozart, writing the acts of Tamerlano, which are the closest and most heartrending dramas, in the manner of Iphigénie en Tauride, the most moving and passionate scenes in music such as certain pages of Admeto