GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL
mind that they were destined for the theatre. It would be absurd to expect works in the strict, vigorous, and involved style of J. S. Bach. They were brilliant divertissements, of which the style, somewhat commonplace yet luminous and pompous, preserves the character of oratorio improvisations, finding their immediate effect on the great audience. "When he gave a concerto," says Hawkins, "his method in general was to introduce it with a voluntary movement on the diapasons, which stole on the ear in a slow and solemn progression; the harmony close wrought, and as full as could possibly be expressed; the passages concatenated with stupendous art, the whole at the same time being perfectly intelligible, and carrying the appearance of great simplicity. This kind of prelude was succeeded by the concerto itself, which he executed with a degree of spirit and firmness that no one can ever pretend to equal." Even at the height of the cabal which was organised against Handel, the Grab Street Journal published an enthusiastic poem on Handel's Organ Concertos.
"Oh winds, softly, softly raise your golden wings
among the branches!
That all may be silent, make even the whisperings of
Zephyrs to cease.
Sources of life, suspend your course. . . .
Listen, listen, Handel the incomparable plays! . . .
Oh look, when he, the powerful man, makes the forces
of the organ resound,
Joy assembles its cohorts, malice is appeased, . . .
His hand, like that of the Creator, conducts his noble
work with order, with grandeur and reason. . . .
Silence, bunglers in art! It is nothing here to have
the favour of great lords. Here^, Handel is king?"
- May 8, 1735. It was the year when Handel wrote and performed his first Concertos of the First Set.